Chapel Hill, N.C. - Dean E. Smith Center
9 p.m., TV - Raycom/LF
"Singletary and Reynolds provide you with a lot of challenges. You've got to cut down on their percentage. If they come out making a bunch of shots at a high percentage, you're not going to beat them. [They beat] Gonzaga, and the last time I looked Gonzaga whacked us. So it's a huge concern for us to try and slow them down, hopefully try and keep their percentage down, hopefully occupy them a great deal at their defensive end of the floor; so at the end of the game they won't have quite the legs they do at the start." -- Roy Williams
"They're not the No. 1 team in the country because the polls put them there, it's because they are. Compared to the other top five or seven teams, it's clear to me that they are the best. They're the deepest. They've got experience. They've got star player quality. They've got every ingredient that you need to consider them the best team. ... This is our reward for getting back into league play – to play against Carolina." -- Dave Leitao
Up and Down: Last year's Cavs squad was picked to finish last in the conference and yet overachieved to win 7 ACC games. Virginia's 2006-07 team has had its share of highs and lows. The Cavs' resume includes a win over No. 10 Arizona and a rout of Gonzaga. Yet, they've also posted a double-digit loss to Appalachian State and a 24-point defeat at the hands of Utah.
Deadly Duo: The common thread in all four of UVa's defeats is the performance by the backcourt duo of Sean Singletary and J.R. Reynolds. In those losses, Singletary and Reynolds combined to shoot just 34 percent from the field. In other words, as they go, so goes Virginia. Singletary is arguably the ACC's top point guard and his 37-point performance against Gonzaga turned many heads. He's a streaky shooter (38.1% FG), but is a terrific penetrator and gets to the free throw line often, where he shoots 92.7 percent. Whereas Singletary was an All-ACC First-Team member last year, Reynolds landed on the All-ACC Third Team. Reynolds' numbers aren't far off last year's pace and he provides a dangerous second go-to scorer.
Perimeter Scoring: The only other UVa player besides Reynolds and Singletary in double-figure scoring is starting wing Mamadi Diane, who is more of a shooting guard in his own right. That triumvirate is shooting a combined 38.5 on three-point attempts -- including a combined 59.1 percent three-point shooting performance against Gonzaga.
Importance of Depth: Head coach Dave Leitao had only eight scholarship players to work with last year. The addition of a number of new faces has given him the ability to use a regular rotation of at least 10 players. Up front has been more of a post by committee approach, with eight frontcourt players in the rotation that have averaged more than eight minutes per game. However, the Cavs will be without Ryan Petrinella, a junior transfer PF who has started seven games, since he's sidelined with a knee injury. The improved depth in the frontcourt is a positive for the Cavs, yet none of those eight frontcourt players has emerged as a reliable producer, as none average double-digit points and only one averages more than five rebounds per game. And for all that depth up front, there is none in the backcourt. Singletary's backup at the point is Reynolds -- the starting shooting guard.
Road Woes: UVa is 2-12 on the road since Leitao took over the program. Those two wins were last season against Virginia Tech and Richmond. In other words, Leitao has yet to win a road game outside of the state.
Series History: UNC leads the all-time series against Virginia, 120-48, including a 61-5 homecourt margin (19-2 at the Smith Center). The Tar Heels have won six of the last eight meetings. Last season, UVa and UNC met three times: poor shooting doomed the Heels in a Jan. 19. loss, 72-68, in Charlottesville -- but UNC avenged that loss at home by destroying the Cavs, 99-54, on March 1. The two teams met again in the ACC Tournament, a hard-fought 79-67 Tar Heel win in which Reyshawn Terry scored 24 points.
Projected Starters: 44 Sean Singletary (6-0, 185, Jr.) – 19.5 ppg, 4.9 apg 2 J.R. Reynolds (6-2, 188, Sr.) - 15.8 ppg, 3.8 apg 24 Mamadi Diane (6-5, 197, So.) – 11.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg 1 Will Harris (6-6, 230, Fr.) – 5.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg 11 Laurynas Mikalauskas (6-8, 255, So.) – 3.2 ppg, 1.2 rpg Key Reserves: 30 Adrian Joseph (6-7, 205, Jr.) – 8.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg 33 Jason Cain (6-10, 225, Sr.) – 6.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg 12 Jamil Tucker (6-8, 230, Fr.) – 3.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg 21 Tunji Soroye (6-11, 245, Jr.) – 1.8 ppg, 1.7 rpg 45 Solomon Tat (6-5, 220, Fr.) – 3.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg
Singletary ....... Reynolds
Diane ....... Joseph
Cain ....... Mikalauskas
(Photos courtesy AP)