#5 Virginia vs #12 UNC-Wilmington
Thursday, 12:40 PM ET, truTV
22-10, 11-7 ACC
Player to Watch: Kyle Guy
Freshman sharpshooter Kyle Guy and his man-bun has emerged as one of offensively-challenged UVa’s top scoring options over the past few weeks. Guy is the most talented shooter on UVa’s roster, and is downright untouchable once he gets on a roll. However, when he doesn’t get off to a hot start, the wheels tend to fall off (he scored 0 points on 0-8 shooting in Thursday’s ACC Tournament loss to Notre Dame). It’s important that Virginia can get him going early on throughout the NCAA Tournament.
X-Factor: Offensive Support for Perrantes and Guy
Thursday night’s dud against Notre Dame was concerning to Wahoo fans, as two of the team’s most prominent offensive weapons in Kyle Guy and London Perrantes combined for 3 points on 1-for-17 shooting. Virginia couldn’t recover, and lost the game. It is clear that Virginia’s offense is too devoid of reliable options to survive off nights from those two. If the Hoos are to make a run in the NCAA Tournament, someone else will need to emerge as a consistent scoring threat to take some of the weight off of Perrantes’ shoulders to provide offense.
29-5, 15-3 CAA
Player to Watch: CJ Bryce
G CJ Bryce is just one of UNC-Wilmington’s many talented backcourt pieces, but he’s the most dangerous. The Seahawks’ leading scorer at 17.6 PPG shoots at a ridiculously high clip (49.1%). Bryce is also on a bit of a roll lately, as he hasn’t scored less than 16 points in over a month. The talented playmaker is highly effective in transition and excels in the high-tempo offense. He’ll be a doozy to contain for even the toughest of defenses in Virginia’s.
X-Factor: Forcing Turnovers
UNC-Wilmington boasts one of the top scoring offenses in the country, but they are extremely vulnerable on the defensive end. It’s crucial that the Seahawks can consistently force turnovers, as they rely on doing so to stop offenses from exposing their blatant lack of size (no rotation players stand taller than 6’7″). Virginia is good at protecting the ball, which could spell trouble for UNC-W.
Matchup to Watch: UNC-Wilmington’s backcourt vs Virginia’s perimeter defenders
UNC-Wilmington’s loaded backcourt will be an interesting challenge for Virginia’s renowned defense. In point guard Denzel Ingram and wings CJ Bryce and Chris Flemmings, UNC-W has the kind of guard play that all the memorable Cinderella teams seem to have. There’s nothing UVa’s D can’t handle, but the Seahawks’ offensive talent is legit. Don’t think they aren’t capable of forcing UVa to break a sweat on Thursday.
Key Stat: 4.2
UNCW’s turnover margin, 5th best in the country.
Virginia likes to play at a snail’s pace and keep the final score in the 50’s. UNC-Wilmington likes to play at a breakneck pace and outscore the entire state of North Carolina when they take the floor. Something will have to give Thursday.
UNC-Wilmington is a rough draw for the Hoos, but if Virginia can exploit UNCW’s lack of size down low and ensure the Seahawks’ dynamic backcourt doesn’t do too much damage, they should be alright. UNC-Wilmington is way too dangerous to say this is anything close to a safe bet, though.
Virginia 77, UNC-Wilmington 70