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Hurricane Warning

Miami Hurricanes

Virginia heads into its mini-bye week with a visit from the reeling Hurricanes. Miami is a mere 1-7 in ACC play, and quickly watching their season hopes vanish. Are they going to fold quickly, or will UVA face a dangerous, wounded animal?

Game Details:

Date/Time:Saturday, February 2nd, 2:00 pm ET
Location:John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
TV:Raycom

 

What 'They' Say

Vegas:UVA -20, O/U 130.5, equates to ~75-55 UVA win
TAPE:Ranks Miami #112, predicts a 72-51 UVA win, 97% confidence
KenPom:Ranks Miami #100, predicts a 73-53 UVA win, 98% confidence

 

Depth Chart:

Starters
PG#0 Chris Lykes, 5'7" 157, SO
34 mpg, 17.0 ppg, 3.3 apg, 30.4% 3P%
SG#5 Zach Johnson, 6'2" 192, SR
29 mpg, 9.9 ppg, 0.6 apg, 37% 3P%
SF#1 Dejan Vasiljevic, 6'3" 184, JR
33 mpg, 13.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 38% FG%
PF#3 Anthony Lawrence II, 6'7" 207, SR
30 mpg, 10.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 46% FG%
C#15 Ebuka Izundu, 6'10" 232, SR
29 mpg, 9.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 0.5 bpg, 57% FG%
Key Reserves
G/F#13 Anthony Mack, 6'6" 214, FR
21 mpg, 3.8 ppg, 1.1 apg, 27% 3P%
F/C#21 Sam Waardenburg, 6'10" 216, SO
23 mpg, 4.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 41% FG%

 

The ABC's of Miami:

A) This is only partially the Miami we thought we'd see this year. Larranaga had a ton of roster management issues arise over the last year. First, he had zero signees in his 2018 class as FBI fallout clouded his recruiting. Then, his two star underclassmen from last year, Bruce Brown and Lonnie Walker, decided to split for the NBA. Then star center Dewan (Huell) Hernandez got himself suspended for a year and a half over (so they say) $500 in benefits from an agent (Hernandez has since left school). Before the season, star transfer G/F Miles Wilson got kicked off the team (how bad does your behavior have to be for fucking Miami to dismiss you for failing to meet expectations?), leaving them with just 8 scholarship bodies. RS Frosh center Deng Gak needed knee surgery in December, ending his season, which left them with the 7 scholarship bodies traveling to Charlottesville this weekend. If you hear the announcers talk about Miami's lack of depth and you wonder how it got this bad? This is why.

B) They're very, very bad at defense. As of just a couple years ago, Larranaga's Miami teams were known for their defense as much as their offense, falling in the Top 25 of D-1 a couple times. But this year, they're dead last in defensive efficiency in ACC play, struggling across the board. They don't turn teams over (11th), they don't hold down opponent's FG% from either 2 (13th) or 3 (14th), they don't control their defensive glass (12th). The lone strength is that they don't foul... but when you're playing a matador defense and teams are getting to the rim at will anyways, does that really matter?

C) Dejan Vasiljevic is having a mini breakout season. Lost in the 'Canes disappointment is a very nice emergence from the junior 2-guard. His ACC play ORtg of 122.6 is the 9th best in the conference as he's hitting reliably from 3 and getting into the lane on occasion too. Oh, and he leads the ACC in lowest TO rate. Ball dominant guards Lykes and Johnson would do well to cede some of their touches to the shooter, who effectively spaces the floor for the slashers and posts to better operate.

 

Their Season To Date

Miami is 9-11 on the season, 1-7 in the ACC. They took semi-bad OOC losses to Rutgers, Yale, and Penn. In ACC play, their only win was over bottom-feeder Wake by 11 at home. Most recently they lost at home to VT by 12.

 

Keys to getting the win:

1) Use our size advantage on the offensive glass. Miami ranks 12th in the ACC in defensive rebounding percentage, giving up offensive rebounds on 1 of every 3 opponent misses. UVA, by contrast, is having a relatively strong year getting second chance looks with its big, athletic frontcourt. Miami will run a lot of zone, which always lends itself to offensive rebounders finding gaps to attack the glass without being boxed out. But more than that we'll have a big size advantage too, rotating 5 guys between 6'7" and 7'1" between the 3, 4, and 5 spots, while Miami will counter with the talented but overmatched trio of Izundu (6'10"), Waardenburg (6'10"), and Lawrence (6'7"). If Virginia is aggressive with our 4's and 5's, second chance points could give us a comfortable advantage.

2) Don't bail them out by giving them FTAs. Miami is not a great shooting team. Not bad, but merely average (7th in the ACC in team 3P%, 6th in 2P%). The lone stat category where they stand out is in drawing FTs, where they're the ACC's 4th best team in FT rate. They shot 29 against NC State, 23 against Wake, but can be denied the bonus opportunities by better defensive teams; Syracuse only put them on the line for a mere 6 FTAs. Miami will need all the help they can get if they want to score the upset; UVA can't give them that help with sloppy, foul-prone defense.

3) Ball security! As we saw against NC State, while we're good with the ball, we're not perfect. And that league leading TO% they talk about? It's a little misleading. We don't commit dead-ball turnovers... fumbles or passes out of bounds, traveling, charges, shot clock violations. But we are occasionally prone to giving up live ball steals, and actually rate a poor 10th in the ACC in rate of live-ball steals coughed up. Miami, by contrast, forces few dead-ball turnovers, but does pick pockets at an average (and as bad as the rest of their defense is, average is good) rate, 8th in the conference. UVA will need to lock up its ball handling against Miami's pesky backcourt if it wants to build and maintain a safe lead in this one.

 

 

Predictions:

Picking a margin here is a little dependent on how good Ty Jerome ends up feeling after having his back tighten up vs NC State. If he's close to 100% (as close as anyone gets this far into a meat-grinder of a season), then Virginia is going to roll in this one. If he's limited or needs to sit, then Virginia may be forced to improvise with lineups and could see a closer margin than the computers predict.

You'll notice I keep talking about the margin of victory, and not whether there'll be a victory, right? Barring a catastrophe, Virginia will win this game. Miami is just hurting now. They're down to just 7 scholarship players and wearing down over the course of a game. Even those 7 players are starting to show wear and tear, as the Miami Herald reported after their VT loss that Anthony Lawrence suffered a hip pointer and Zach Johnson was playing on a tender ankle.

Virginia just has advantages in too many phases of this game. It's the ACC's most efficient offense going against its least efficient defense. Their offense has shown flashes but struggled on the road. Hoos should have no problem shaking off their Raleigh road trip funk and returning to their double-digit margin winning ways.

Hoos Win 74-56