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Notre Dame Opponent Preview: Virginia

How They Are Doing So Far:

Virginia is clearly one of the best teams in the country. After losing to Duke 72-70 over the weekend, the Cavaliers followed it up with an easy win over Wake Forest. And most of the victories for the Cavaliers have been relatively easy. Their stifling defense has given most teams a huge problem and this group has more than enough offense to put away mid-level teams in the ACC. And that is a problem for Notre Dame.

 

Last Time Out:

The Cavaliers impressive defense was on full display against Wake Forest on Tuesday night. The Demon Deacons shot just 30.9 percent from the floor. Virginia got off to a very fast start, taking a 25-3 lead to start the game. Even a better offense than Wake Forest would have no chance of making up that deficit against this defense. On offense, Virginia was very balanced with five players scoring in double digits. Kyle Guy, De’Andre Hunter and Ty Jerome were the usual suspects when it comes to scoring, but Coach Tony Bennett also got good outings from forwards Mamadi Diakite and Jay Huff. Diakite scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Huff added a dozen points in just 13 minutes of play.

 

Who To Watch:

Ty Jerome has not been the most consistent scoring threat on the team, but the 6-5 point guard is the player who makes this team tick. He is averaging 4.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game so he makes UVA tick on both ends of the floor. Offensively, Jerome is a good shooter and has connected on 40.0 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. He can often shoot over smaller defenders and use his 6-5 frame to overpower opposing point guards when attacking the basket. Jerome is not often going to pour 20 points on a good team, but that is true of most players on Virginia.

 

Who Else To Watch:

Kyle Guy and De’Andre Hunter are the most prolific scorers on the team. Guy, a 6-2 junior, is averaging 15.0 points per game and shoots an amazing 45.4 percent from beyond the arc. And Guy is a player who will take a lot of three-pointers. He has connected on 54 so far this season and that is an average of three per game. Hunter, a 6-7 wing, does most of his damage attacking the basket, but he too is a threat to shoot the ball. Hunter is often at his best against the tougher teams on the schedule. Against Virginia Tech he dropped 21 points and the following game at Duke he scored 18.

 

Prediction:

Notre Dame will have their hands full against Virginia. The Irish will have to be at their best to even compete with this Virginia team. The good news for Notre Dame is that they have shooters all over the floor and that is the best way to crack the Cavaliers defense. Of course, the Irish need to create open looks and knock down those shots, but if they do, Notre Dame will have the opportunity to get a season changing victory.

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