#7 Virginia (21-5, 10-4) at #11 Miami FL (21-5, 10-4)
When: Monday, February 22nd 2016
Where: BankUnited Center, Coral Gables, FL
Time: 7:00 ET | TV: ESPN
The Virginia Cavaliers and Miami Hurricanes look to keep pace with North Carolina in the ACC standings as the season comes to a close in a few weeks. The Cavaliers have a full seven days rest and have won eight of their last nine games to pull within one game of the Tar Heels. The defense continues to pace the Cavs as they have held their last five opponents to an average of just 49.2 points a game including their 73-53 win over NC State last week. Led by senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia’s offense isn’t bad either – coach Tony Bennett’s team is seventh in the nation in field-goal percentage (49.6), 10th in 3-point percentage (40.6) and 17th in free-throw percentage (75.4). Brogdon is averaging a team-best 17.8 points on 46.5% shooting. Junior point guard London Perrantes (11.3 points, 3.9 assists) is a solid 3-point shooter (54.2%) and the pair combined for 27 second-half points in Virginia’s earlier 66-58 win over Miami. Senior forward Anthony Gill is the Cavaliers’ top inside threat (13.8 points, 5.8 rebounds) and combined with senior Mike Tobey (7.1 points) for 27 points in that same game.
Miami’s usually solid defense allowed 50 points in the paint, nine 3-pointers and 52.2% shooting to the Tar Heels in the 96-71 loss on Saturday. The Hurricanes trailed by as much as 38 points in that game and are also a game behind North Carolina. The Hurricanes are led by senior shooting guard Sheldon McClellan (15.8 points) and senior point guard Angel Rodriguez (11.5 points, 4.4 assists). Senior 7-foot center Tonye Jekiri (8.1 points, 9.4 rebounds) is usually the team’s defensive stopper inside but had no answer for Brice Johnson and the Heels on Saturday. Sophomore guard Ja’Quan Newton, the team’s second-leading scorer (11.1), left the North Carolina loss with what Larranaga called a left knee bruise and his status is uncertain for tonight’s game. The Hurricanes are 13-1 at home and look to stay in the ACC race with Louisville and Notre Dame on deck.
I think this Virginia team is just too tough on defense for Miami tonight. It’s basically a pickem game, so I’ll take the Cavaliers to pull off the win tonight.
Pick: Virginia +1.5