Two of the ACC’s best will be squaring off Tuesday night in Charlottesville.
Tipoff: 9:00 PM ET
Spread: Virginia -4.5
North Carolina Team Preview
Record: 11-5 (3-2)
KenPom Ranking: 21st (13th Offense, 70th Defense)
Recent Games: 81-64 W vs Notre Dame, 88-79 W vs Wake Forest, 76-74 L at Pittsburgh
Sr. F Armando Bacot (18.8 ppg, 11.2 reb, 1.3 blk)
Jr. G Caleb Love (16.9 ppg, 3.3 ast, 1.3 stl)
Jr. G RJ Davis (16.4 ppg, 5.3 reb, 3.4 ast)
After a rocky start to the year, Carolina has picked up some steam lately and has only lost once in the past month. They check in at No. 1 in the latest Deacons Daily ACC Power Rankings. The Tar Heels are still unranked in the AP Poll, so this matchup in Charlottesville is huge for them to solidify their position nationally, as well as in the ACC.
Pete Nance got injured at the beginning of the Wake Forest matchup, and missed the Notre Dame game, but this could have been a blessing in disguise, as Seth Trimble and Puff Johnson have gained confidence and played well in their increased roles. Hubert Davis hasn’t developed a ton of trust in his bench, but stretching the rotation to a comfortable eight guys would be very beneficial for this team.
Offensively, this team is quite explosive, evidenced by the high KenPom rating. Led by potential ACC Player of the Year Armando Bacot, this team plays a nice inside out game, with guards RJ Davis and Caleb Love providing scoring from the perimeter. When this team has struggled, it’s been because these two lead guards are being too aggressive, or just not hitting shots (Davis and Love combined to shoot 24.5% from 3 in the four game losing streak earlier this season). Bacot has dominated the inside of the arc for this team all year, as he leads the ACC in points per game, and in FG% for players averaging 10+ shot attempts per game. Bacot also gets to the free throw line more than any other player in the ACC. He’s already taken 122 free throws this season.
This team is not nearly as potent on the defensive end. Leaky Black is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, but the rest of the starting five is mediocre at best. The Heels rank 10th in the ACC in steals per game (6.2) and 11th in turnovers forced per game (11.7). This Carolina defense has allowed big games to Pittsburgh guard Jamarius Burton (31 points) and Alabama’s Mark Sears (24 points) earlier this year. They also struggled with athletic big men in Virginia Tech’s Justyn Mutts (27 points, 11 rebounds) and Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis (21 points, 10 rebounds).
Nance is a game-time decision for this one, and while his availability doesn’t drastically change this team’s outlook, he’s still a starter with plenty of experience. Although the Heels have replaced him well in the past two games, his rebounding and shooting will assuredly provide a boost.
Virginia Team Overview
Read More: Virginia vs North Carolina: Preview and Prediction 2023-01-10 12:30:00