Previewing Virginia

Now back on a winning track, the Tar Heels host Virginia tonight. Tipoff at the Smith Center is 7:00 p.m. on ESPN. <br><center> (<a target=new href="">INTERNET BROADCAST</a>) - (<a href="'','GameTrackermbaskbl','toolbar=no,resizeable=no,scrollbars=no,width=780,height=540'); void('');">LIVE STATS</a>)</center>

North Carolina (12-10, 3-6) vs. Virginia (14-7, 5-4)
Smith Center, Chapel Hill
7:00 p.m., ESPN (Mike Patrick and Brad Daugherty)


Matt Doherty

"We're happy to have won a game against Florida State. That's the good news. The bad news is we have to play Virginia, who is playing really well right now and has some of the better players in the league, [such as] Travis Watson. It's going to be a real challenge for our team and we're looking forward to it.

"I've talked about confidence. A coach can give a player half the package, and the player has to come up with the other half - and I think by putting David in the starting lineup I gave him that half and he provided the other half. Confidence is a huge thing in anything we do. To have guys playing with confidence is important.

"We played Duke at Duke, we played pretty well, but their experienced guys (Duhon, Jones) made backbreaking threes. We played really well against Wake Forest, but Josh Howard made the [big] play. Talented, experienced play is great to have and those guys are some of the best in the country.

"[Saturday's win] was definitely a relief. Our kids have been working really hard and they felt like it was about time they were rewarded. It helps to show that if you keep working, keep plugging away, you'll have an opportunity to win some games. This is such a brutal league, where anyone can beat anyone on any given night, it's certainly a grind and we've got a heck of a challenge against Virginia.

"Rashad [McCants] had one of his better practices [Monday] - as good a practice as he has had since he's been here. His back looked better, he was really working hard on the defensive end. That's certainly a step in the right direction and I'll be surprised if he doesn't play well [Wednesday]."

Pete Gillen

"We're looking forward to playing North Carolina. It's going to be a big challenge for us, they're playing really well right now and Matt's done a great job with his club, so it's going to be tough for us.

"[Rashad] McCants is a great player, one of the best freshmen in the country. We recruited him at Virginia and we feel we'll get his best shot. We expect him to be at his best. We're very concerned with him because he can certainly take a game over himself.

"Keith Jenifer is still indefinitely suspended ... Todd's doing a good job handling the ball. He played point guard as a freshman at Rutgers. His sophomore year was off the ball. He can play either position - is certainly comfortable shooting the ball, but he's doing a good job for us handling the ball and Mapp is doing a good job off the bench for us. Todd's a different type point guard than Jenifer but plays well.

"Our bench has done a good job, come in and scored some big points and defended. Travis is a special player, but we've been fortunate recently where our guys off our bench have helped us. It's a team game, which includes the bench and practice players. We've been fortunate the last week where we've gotten good play from our bench.

Virginia Scouting Report
by Brett Ayers

Offensive Schemes - UVa will run all manner off 1-4 set entry plays and go into a lot of 4-out-1 in free lance motion and or just a high and wide spacing looking to get the ball down low to Watson. As good as Watson can be down on the block there is a funny dynamic that happens with him. First part of that dynamic is once he gets it, 90% of the time is it not coming back out. Second part of the dynamic is that the guards know this and thus will get up their shots. Both Watson and Brown are awful productive down low but will go for stretches and not touch the ball. UVa will run a lot of horns entry plays off of the 1-4 and or push through the wing with Billet on ball and try to get Billet a pick and roll. One of the biggest keys to stopping UVa is stopping them in transition. Recognizing shooters and stopping the ball early on in transition are two huge keys to keeping UVa from going on a 10 or 15 point run. Billet loves to get lost in transition and spot up for a shot. A big X factor in this game is Smith. He gets off early and can go on roles unlike anyone else on the UVa team. Find him in transition and don't let him get open looks.

Defensive Schemes - UVa will play predominately man-to-man, but with UNC teams have thrown everything from zone to junk defense at them and depending, UVa might well do much of the same in this game. I also think UVa will press UNC, even with guard Keith Jenifer out. With Mapp back UVa is deeper again at the point guard spot and Mapp is getting stronger and back into rythymn more and more every game. A team that is not real good at blocking out on the perimeter which will allow Noel to get some offensive boards if he continues being aggressive as he has. Whoever has Billet on them should run a UCLA cut of the high post and look for a quick low block post up and shot.

Players to Watch:

Todd Billet - He is five foot ten in his dreams only. A very, very capable shooter who will pull up on you at just the oddest of times and even has a peculiar form, too. Has range out to 25 feet. A guy who must be found in transition at all times. One thing to do with Todd is really take the ball at him.

Travis Watson - Is tough and can do a bit of everything. Has range out to 15 feet. He is left handed which makes him all backwards to defend. Lives to rebound. Once the ball goes inside, you can pretty much rest assured it is going up.

Elton Brown - Third leading scorer who is kind of a garbage man. Has a way of coming up with lose balls and scoring and or getting dishes from the guards. Very capable low block scorer.

Devin Smith - The X factor for UVa every game. Never know which version of Devin will show up. The one who can string four, five, six three pointers together or the guy who goes 1 for 5 in 22 minutes like he did against State. He was the main reason for the come back against Maryland and is more than abundantly capable of lighting up anyone on any given night for 25 points. Find him in transition.

Probable Starting Lineup:
   Todd Billet (6-0, G, Jr.) – 13.8 ppg, 3.1 apg, 38% 3pt
   Derrick Byars (6-7, F, Fr.) – 7.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg
   Jason Clark (6-8, F, So.) – 5.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg
   Travis Watson (6-8, F, Sr.) – 14.4 ppg, 10.6 rpg
   Nick Vander Laan (6-10, C, Jr.) – 6.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg
Key Reserves: 
   Elton Brown  (6-9, F, So.) – 10.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
   Devin Smith  (6-5, F, So.) – 9.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg
   Jermaine Harper  (6-3, G, So.) – 4.4 ppg
   Majestic Mapp (6-2, G, Jr.) – 4.0 ppg, 1.9 apg

Virginia Info

Photo Gallery

Travis Watson ... Todd Billet

ELton Brown ... Pete Gillen

(Photos courtesy the AP.)

Series History

North Carolina leads the all-time series with the Cavaliers 114-46 in a rivalry that dates back to the 1910-11 season. Virginia won the first meeting of the 2002-2003 season 79-72 (Jan. 11) at University Hall and swept the 2001-2002 season series, winning 71-67 (Jan. 12) in Chapel Hill and 73-63 (Feb. 12) in Charlottesville. It marked the second time in three seasons UVa has swept the season series from the Tar Heels. Virginia also swept the regular season series in 1999-2000 for the first time since the 1980-81 season. (UNC, however, won the meeting in the 1981 NCAA Tournament's Final Four).

The Cavaliers have won four consecutive games in the series and six of the last seven contests. UVa's current four-game winning streak is its longest in the series since the early 1900s. The Cavaliers won five consecutive games against North Carolina from 1917-18 to 1919-20 (45-35 in 1917-18, 40-29 and 31-21 in 1918-19, 40-25 and 37-31 in 1919-20). UVa won the first eight games in the series from 1910-11 to 1915-16.

North Carolina's last win in the series was an 88-81 decision (Jan. 24) in Chapel Hill in the 2000-2001 season.

Virginia's victory in Chapel Hill in the 1999-2000 season (90-76 - Feb. 20) was its first ever triumph at the Smith Center. The Cavaliers lost their previous 14 games in the Dean Dome. The win also snapped UVa's 18-game losing streak in Chapel Hill. Prior to 1999-2000, the previous Virginia victory in Chapel Hill came on February 3, 1981, when UVa posted an 80-79 overtime victory.

Despite Virginia's win in 1999-2000, the Tar Heels have dominated the series in games played in Chapel Hill, winning 57 of the 62 meetings. The Cavaliers are 2-15 at the Smith Center.

Virginia's wins in Chapel Hill occurred on: February 24, 1911 - UVa 18, UNC 15; January 25, 1973 - UVa 84, UNC 78 (UNC ranked third); February 3, 1981 - UVa 80, UNC 79 (UNC ranked 11th) in overtime; February 20, 2000 - UVa 90, UNC 76; and January 12, 2002 - 71-67.

North Carolina has won nine of the last 16 games and 19 of the last 29 games between the two teams.

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