UNC Opponent Preview: Virginia

No. 1 seed North Carolina looks to win its first ACC Tournament title since 2008 against No. 2 seed Virginia on Saturday night. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN and the ACC Network.

North Carolina (27-6, 14-4 ACC) vs. Virginia (26-6, 13-5 ACC)
Washington, D.C. – Verizon Center
Saturday, 9 p.m.
ESPN/ACC Network

Quotables

“It means I've recruited well, or we've recruited well. Our staff has. We've got the right kind of guys. They play the right way. We're just trying to do it the right way, as I said. It hasn't been easy. This year has been a little different than the last one. We know how good Miami is and we know - I don't know the final score, but Carolina put it on pretty good to Notre Dame - how potent they are. We're looking forward to the opportunity and we'll have to be at our best.” – Virginia head coach Tony Bennett on reaching the ACC Tournament finals for the second time in three years

“Keep them off the offensive rebounds, keep them out of transition. Two big things we do really well. Two things we try to pride ourselves on the defensive side. It will be the clash of the different styles, but we'll be ready.” – Virginia point guard London Perrantes

PREGAME NOTES

Since the Last Meeting: Virginia enters Saturday’s contest with a 26-6 (13-5 ACC) record. The Cavaliers have won their last four games since topping UNC on Feb. 27. After grinding out a road win at Clemson, Bennett’s squad throttled No. 14 Louisville, 68-48, in its regular season finale. Virginia has seven wins over ranked opponents, including Friday’s win over No. 11 Miami.

How Virginia Got Here: The Cavaliers handled 10th-seeded Georgia Tech, 72-52, in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals Thursday behind senior wing and ACC Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon’s 26 points and stifling defense. Virginia then turned around to avenge an earlier loss against third-seeded Miami in Friday night’s semifinal, 73-68, behind another impressive effort by Brogdon, who dropped 24 points on the Hurricanes.

Brogdon Living Up To Honors: If Brogden made his case for ACC Player of the Year in Virginia’s 79-74 win over North Carolina on Feb. 27, he’s only solidified the honor in the ACC Tournament. Through two games, the senior guard has scored 50 points on 16-30 shooting. It’s not just the numbers that tell what he is doing, but rather the situations in which he asserts himself. In Thursday’s win over Georgia Tech, Brogdon scored 14 points in the first half to carry a struggling Virginia offense into halftime with a 30-28 lead. Against Miami, he set the tone early with a 3-pointer just 48 seconds into the game.

Free Throw Struggles: A major key to Virginia’s victory over UNC was a strong effort from the free throw line, where the Cavaliers drained 18 of their 21 attempts (85.7 percent) to UNC’s 53.8 percent mark (7-13), including missed front-ends of one-and-ones. UVA has since cooled off, shooting 26-of-40 (65 percent) from the charity stripe in tournament play.

Outside Opposites: The ACC Tournament championship game will showcase the league’s best 3-point shooting team in Virginia and the conference’s worst 3-point shooting squad in North Carolina. The Cavaliers are hitting 41 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc, while the Tar Heels are experiencing the worst 3-point shooting season in UNC history, making just 31.3 percent of their attempts from long range. Those stats have evened out in the ACC Tournament, where UVa has hit 44 percent of its 3-pointers and UNC has hit 41.4 percent of its attempts.

Kings of Analytics: The Cavaliers are the best team in the country according to KenPom.com. Virginia boasts the nation’s 7th most efficient offense with 119 points per 100 possessions, thanks in part to an amount of offensive patience unlike any other team in college basketball. UVa also has the 4th-most efficient defense in the country, allowing just 91.9 points per 100 possessions. Virginia’s players aren’t afraid to create contact on the defensive end, setting the tone for a physical game.

Last Meeting: The Cavaliers defeated the Tar Heels, 79-74, in Charlottesville on Feb. 27, 2016. Virginia broke open a 49-49 tie with 13:48 to play with a 16-5 run over the next five minutes. UNC shot 49.2 percent while holding the Cavs to 44.3 percent, but committed 13 turnovers and allowed 13 offensive rebounds. Joel Berry led the Tar Heels with 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Malcolm Brogdon led all scorers with 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting.

Series History: UNC leads the all-time series, 129-53.

Projected Starters:
32 London Perrantes (6-2, 192, Jr.) – 11.1 ppg, 4.2 apg
15 Malcolm Brogdon (6-5, 215, Sr.) - 18.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg
0 Devon Hall (6-5, 209, So.) - 4.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg
13 Anthony Gill (6-8, 230, Sr.) - 13.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg
21 Isaiah Wilkins (6-7, 230, So.) – 4.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg

Top Reserves:
10 Mike Tobey (7-0, 260, Sr.) - 7.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg
04 Marial Shayok (6-5, 213, So.) - 3.9 ppg, 1.7 rpg
51 Darius Thompson (6-4, 196, So.) – 4.4 ppg, 1.3 rpg

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