Just two weeks ago Virginia came to Winston-Salem with a good chance to put a stranglehold on the ACC. However, after one half of basketball it was the 'Hoos that were strangled. They put up a good fight in the second half, but did not have enough to complete the comeback as Wake Forest held on to beat the Cavs 69-57. Will things be different in Charlottesville tomorrow at noon? Click through for what to expect...
The most obvious issue to discuss regarding today's matchup is the weather. A rare blizzard has taken over Virginia and we were uncertain for a while about whether or not the game would actually be played on time. Now that the decision has been made to play the game as scheduled, it will be interesting to see what kind of crowd shows up. Any student with an ID will be admitted, but few people outside of walking distance are expected to make it to JPJ Arena. As a result, the atmosphere will definitely be a unique one that will either be really quiet for an ACC game or one that is filled with loud students who suffered from cabin fever last night and are eager to yell their lungs out.
As far as the action on the court is concerned, Virginia will look to correct their performance from two weeks ago. They got in a deep hole early, which was partly due to the early foul trouble of star player Sylven Landesburg and partly due to terrible shooting. The Demon Deacons out-shot the Wahoos 52% to 34%. Coach Tony Bennett is sure to be ready to prove that his installation of the pack-line defense is better than they exhibited during the previous matchup.
On the other end of the floor, senior point guard Ish Smith had a very productive game against UVA last time out, netting 21 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. He was helped by fellow senior Chas McFarland, who scored 16 points on seven of nine shooting. This time around look for Al-Farouq Aminu to step up his game, especially since he is coming off his worst performance of the season in a win against Miami. Virginia big man Mike Scott is productive, but UVA will need Jerome Meyinsse to play well if they want to limit both McFarland and Aminu.
Ultimately, expect this game to be a tight one throughout with the star players getting their points. It will be the team that is efficient from beyond the arc that will come out on top. For Wake, this means that freshmen C.J. Harris and Ari Stewart will need to knock down jumpers, while Sammy Zeglinski and Mustapha Farrakhan must make big shots for the Cavaliers to be successful and give Landesburg and Scott some space to operate.
As anyone that watches ACC basketball knows, it is tough to get a road win in the ACC, especially against teams in the top half of the conference. A Wake win today would give them six conference wins, which only Duke has at the moment. A Virginia win would boost them to 6-2, which would tie them for first in the conference. Obviously, this is a huge game for both teams as they look to earn a bye for the ACC tournament and keep their regular season title hopes alive.