Virginia vs. Louisville
7:00 pm KFC Yum Center
Spread: UL -3
Virginia vs. Louisville is the ACC conference opener for both of these dynamic programs. This game will showcase the defensive minded gurus, Rick Pitino and Tony Bennett. According to teamrankings.com Virginia ranks 2nd in defensive efficiency, while Louisville ranks 6th. This game will also be the first time these two teams have met since the embarrassing home loss Louisville experienced last year (63-47).
The last game for both of teams displayed qualities that might have been surprising to many viewers. Louisville is coming off a huge win after beating their in-state rival, Kentucky, aided by big plays from Quinten Snider, and have much confidence going into conference play. Virginia on the other hand, with the emerging freshman, Kyle Guy, survived a scare when visiting California. California had a long home court winning streak, with the help from the spectacular sophomore, Ivan Rabb.
This game will be played at a much slower pace than many basketball fans have seen, in the sense that both teams run a very methodical half court offense. Virginia only averages 68.9 points per game, which is at the lower end of the spectrum in comparison to a powerhouse Kentucky, that averages 93.1. This is all deliberate in order to focus the majority of the game plan on strong defense.
Louisville’s basketball team purely outsizes the Virginia Cavaliers. The Cardinals have 2 players over 7 feet and 2 players stretching at 6’10”. The Virginia cavaliers have 2 players at 6’11” accompanied by a much smaller line up.
When it comes to crashing the boards the Cardinals have a great advantage when reviewing the numbers. The Cardinals are 4th in the nation in grabbing rebounds (44.6 RPG), while the Cavaliers slide all the way down to 258th (35.0 RPG) . This will keep the ball in Louisville’s hands for more time and force Virginia to continue to stay defensive minded all game.
Lastly, the Cardinals are very impressive in blocking shots. The Louisville Cardinals average 7 blocks a game and will be facing a smaller Virginia team, contrary to prior opponents. The Virginia Cavaliers are heavily out-weighed in this category, only averaging 4.9 blocks per game and will have to play smart defense to keep the ball on the perimeter.
As stated earlier, and deservedly so, the Virginia Cavaliers have one of the top defenses in the country. The Cavaliers are also led by versatile senior, London Perrantes. He averages 10 points per game, with 14 against Cal, accompanied by an impressive stat of 4.3 assists per game. Perrantes understands the Virginia style of play and has 4 years under Tony Bennett.
Another key player on the Virginia team is freshman Kyle Guy. Guy, who has been a pivotal 6th man, has been coming off the bench and putting up big numbers for the Cavaliers as of lately. Guy averages 9.4 points per game and put up a crucial 17 in the game against California.
Recently, Virginia has struggled with shooting beyond the arc. The last two games the Cavaliers shot only 8-28 from the three, and relied on mid range and jump shots for most of their points. This team will have to be more effective from deep in order to put up points against Louisville.
In the last few years, Louisville has been mismatched in this competition because of veteran Malcolm Brogdon (Virgina Alum). However, Louisville’s team has been able to find their stride offensively and will put up a competitive fight against Virginia. Tony Bennett said, “… They look a little more potent offensively. They’re playing faster than they have. With that length and blocking ability, it’s very impressive.” (Courier journal).This quote shows the tests Virginia will have to take in this difficult ACC road battle. Because of these statistics, I believe Louisville will win a hard fought game by a narrow margin.