2 p.m. Feb. 2 – Miami @ No. 3 Virginia
The brutal Atlantic Coast Conference schedule continues for Miami as they travel to Charlottesville to face the Virginia Cavaliers.
Tony Bennett’s squad runs one of the best defensive systems in the country. Bennett’s pack-line defense has been confusing opposing offenses since he took the job, and this year is no different.
The Hoos (19-1, 7-1 ACC) lead the country in scoring defense at 53.2 points allowed per game and excel in defending the 3-pointer. Opponents hit just 25 percent of their threes against the Cavaliers, another mark which is first in the nation.
Virginia isn’t quite as deep as they typically are, but their versatile big three of juniors Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome and sophomore De’Andre Hunter is extremely versatile
The sweet-shooting Guy hits threes at a 46 percent clip, 13th-best mark in the country. Jerome leads the squad with five assists per game. While Hunter, who might be the best of the three despite getting the least publicity, is a 6-foot-7, do-it-all wing who can lock up any position and score on the other end.
Miami (9-11, 1-7 ACC) doesn’t have the firepower or the manpower to match up in what might be the toughest game of the season.
Prediction: Virginia 73 — Miami 49
7 p.m. Feb. 6 – Miami vs. Notre Dame
The Hurricanes get a relative break from a tough stretch as they welcome the Fighting Irish to Coral Gables.
Notre Dame (11-10, 1-7 ACC) sits at the bottom of the conference standings, tied with Wake Forest and Miami.
The departures of Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson have left coach Mike Brey without any of the main pieces that fueled recent NCAA Tournament runs.
Junior forward John Mooney has been the Irish’s most reliable player, compiling 13 double-doubles, tied for the fourth most in the nation. Other than Mooney, Notre Dame don’t have any consistent threats to score.
Miami can certainly win this one, but they have watch out for a barrage from behind the arc.
Although the Irish make just 32.8 percent of their tries from distance, Notre Dame leads the ACC with 27 attempts per contest. If the Canes allow the Irish open looks, a few more than usual might drop.
However, the home crowd and a prideful team should allow the Hurricanes to break their losing streak.
Prediction: Miami 77 — Notre Dame 70