WASHINGTON D.C. – After beating Virginia Tech in the quarterfinals, the No. 11 Hurricanes will face the No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers at 9 p.m. Friday night in the Verizon Center. The winner will earn the opportunity to play in the ACC Tournament championship game.
UVA’s strength is on the defensive side of the floor. The Cavaliers are best defensive team in the ACC, only giving up 59.6 points per game. The Cavs are gifted at limiting opponents’ fast break offense and forcing them to play at a slower pace.
One of the few holes in the Cavs’ defense is the ability to protect the three-point line. The team allows opposing offenses to convert on 35 percent of attempts from beyond the arc. When the Canes beat UVA on Feb. 22, they took advantage of the holes in Cavs’ three-point defense. Led by junior guard Davon Reed who shot 5-of-6 from deep in the matchup, the Canes went 10-of-19 on three-pointers. If the third-seeded Canes are going to upset the second-seeded Cavs, Miami will have to continue to drain its threes.
“Defense is what we pride ourselves on,” said UVA redshirt senior guard Malcolm Brogdon on Thursday night. “Even with other great players on opposing teams, it doesn’t matter who it is, we’re going to try to lock them down, we’re going to try to make them uncomfortable and make it a tough night for them.”
The Cavs (25-6, 13-5) are a good defensive team, but their offense is also very efficient. The team leads the ACC in both field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage. But it is not just one player, as they have an array of weapons that are all threats to score.
Brogdon, who was recently named ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and junior guard London Perrantes can both score with ease. Perrantes is the best sharpshooter in the ACC, converting a league-high 50.4 percent of his triples. Brogdon is an all-around natural scorer who averages more than 18 points per game. Redshirt senior forward Anthony Gill is also a consistent scorer, averaging 13.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
The Canes (25-6, 13-5) are perfect in games played at neutral locations, as they swept the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament earlier this season and beat Virginia Tech on Thursday night. Virginia will treat this matchup like a home game though, as UVA has a strong alumni base in the Washington D.C. metro area.
“It was an awesome crowd out there today. Coming out of the tunnel, I saw those orange shirts. I was just stunned. It was a lot of people out there for us, a lot of support,” Gill said of UVA’s win over Georgia Tech on Thursday.
It has been Miami’s redshirt senior guards Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan who have carried the Canes all season long, including against the Hokies on Thursday night. If the duo can limit turnovers and hit key shots, the Canes will have a strong chance at beating UVA.