Minnesota-Virginia BB Preview

The Gophers will go back on the road as they face Virginia in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. The game is part of the fifth annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge, a three-day series matching two of the nation's top basketball conferences. The ACC and Big Ten have dominated the Final Four with the two leagues providing 11 of the 20 Final Four teams the last five years. The Cavaliers are off to a 3-0 start this season.

The Cavaliers defeated Cavaliers High Point 79-64, Virginia Tech 80-65
and Mount St. Mary's 80-71. They return four of five starters from last season 16-16 team that lost to St. John's in the second round of the N.I.T. They have gotten good balalnce so far with five players averaging double figures. Todd Billet, Elton Brown, Derrick Byars and Devin Smith are returning starters, but head coach Pete Gillien landed a strong recruiting class, which has produced two starters.


Six-foot-6 freshman forward Gary Forbes made a strong debut by finishing with a team-high 21 points and nine rebounds in his college debut against Mt. St. Mary's. Forbes was named ACC Rookie of the Week based on that performance. He is leading the team with 15.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.


Six-foot-9 junior center Elton Brown is averaging 12.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.


6-0 senior point guard Todd Billet led the ACC in three-point percentage and shot 86 percent from the line last season. The former Rutgers transfer is averaging 12.0 points per game.


Six-foot-8 freshman Donte Minter is averaging 10.7 points and five rebounds per game off the bench.


Six-foot-7 sophomore forward Derrick Byars is the fifth double-figure scorer. He is averaging 10.0 points and six caroms per contest.


Six-foot-5 junior forward Devin Smith was the team's second leading returning scorer last season. He has come off the bench this season and is averaging 7.5 points and 6.5 rebounds. Smith has shot just 27.3 percent from the field.


Six-foot-3 freshman guard J.R. Reynolds has started all three games. He is averaging 7.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game.


Six-foot-2 senior point guard Majesti Mapp has been hampered by several knee surgeries throughout his career. He is leading the team with 4.0 assists per game.


Rebounding could be a key for the Cavaliers' success. They have been outrebounded by 10 boards through three games and have given up 49 offensive boards, compared to just 24 for themselves. The Gophers have been outrebounded by 1.7 rebounds per game


The Cavaliers are 1-2 in ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchups. Last season, Virginia fell at Michigan State 82-75 on Dec. 4. In 2001, Virginia's matchup against Michigan State in Richmond, was halted with the Cavaliers leading 31-28 with 15:04 remaining in the second half due to slippery floor conditions (unseasonably warm temperature (70 degrees) combined with the ice surface under the playing court produced condensation on the court). Virginia won its 2000 ACC/Big Ten Challenge game 98-79 over Purdue at University Hall. In the initial ACC/Big Ten meeting in 1999, Virginia fell to Minnesota 74-62 in Minneapolis. The ACC has won the first four ACC/Big Ten Challenges. The
ACC won by 5-4 margins in 1999, 2000 and 2002, and 5-3 in 2001. The ACC is 20-15 in the challenge vs. the Big Ten.

 The Cavaliers meet Minnesota for the fifth time ever in tonight's ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Virginia leads the all-time series 3-1. The first three games were decided by seven points or less with Virginia winning all three contests. Minnesota won the last meeting in the series 74-62 at Williams Arena in the 1999 ACC/Big Ten Challenge. In the 1993-94 season, Virginia defeated the Golden Gophers 62-57 at University Hall in Minnesota's only trip to Charlottesville. UVa posted a 79-72 win at Minnesota in the 1990-91 campaign. The initial meeting of the series
took place in Madison Square Garden in the 1980 N.I.T. Championship game with the Cavaliers prevailing 58-55.

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