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Syracuse opened its Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament with an 89-68 victory over NC State, using 27 points from Buddy Boeheim and 14 from Joe Girard III to outscore the Wolfpack by 16 in the second half. The Orange connected on 48% of their 3-point attempts and shot 57% from the field to reach their second-largest margin of victory in the ACC’s postseason tournament.
SU advanced to the quarterfinals, where it’ll face top-seed Virginia — which ranks No. 16 nationally — at 12 p.m. on Thursday. The Cavaliers lost three of their last five games, but back-to-back victories over Miami and Louisville, coupled with Florida State’s loss against Notre Dame, secured the top seed for them.
Here’s what you need to know about UVA (17-6, 13-4 ACC) before it faces Syracuse (16-8, 9-7) for the second time this season:
Virginia leads, 9-6
Last time they played
Virginia dissected Syracuse’s 2-3 zone to the tune of 49.2% shooting and 14-of-31 3-pointers sinking through the basket, including seven from Sam Hauser, in its 81-58 win on Jan. 25. Early on, the Cavaliers used guard Kihei Clark at the high post, facilitating openings for Hauser, Jay Huff and Trey Murphy III. Clark finished with nine assists to complement 21-point outings from Huff and Hauser.
Defensively, UVA used its pack-line defense to limit the Orange’s top three guards to 19 points and force them to fire 3-pointer after 3-pointer that harmlessly bounced off. Quincy Guerrier led with 15 points, but Syracuse finished 5-for-23 from beyond the arc — including Buddy’s 1-for-7 and Alan Griffin’s 1-for-5.
Virginia has a 65% chance to win, with a projected score of 69-65
The Virginia report
Behind a top-15 offense in terms of adjusted efficiency, the Cavaliers spent most of the season as the team to beat in the ACC standings, along with Florida State. They ripped off 11 wins in 12 games, losing only to Virginia Tech, and have the 12th-highest 3-point percentage and 25th-best 2-point field goal percentage in the country.
UVA’s offense is led by Hauser’s 15.8 points per game, while Huff and Murphy are the other two starters averaging double-digit points. Pace-wise, the Cavaliers’ adjusted tempo ranks 357th in the country, while their offense and defense create some of the longest possession lengths, too — 346th and 345th, respectively, per KenPom.
How Syracuse beats the Cavaliers
Syracuse’s ability to convert its 3-pointers at the rate it did on Wednesday will provide a boost that its 5-for-23 percentage couldn’t the last time the Orange played the Cavaliers. But the Orange will also have to do a better job of defending the high-post, especially if UVA decides to have Clark operate its offense from that spot again. Close-outs on Hauser will help mitigate his ability to repeatedly connect from the outside, but his openings result from having to pinch the zone tighter when dealing with Huff or Hauser.
The main key, though, will once again be Buddy’s play. When these two teams met earlier in the season, Buddy finished with nine points and five turnovers. But in the past six games, four of which turned into SU wins, he’s been the focal point of its offense — averaging 22 points per game.
Player to watch: Sam Hauser, forward, No. 10
In his first season since transferring from Marquette and redshirting a year, Hauser’s leading the Virginia offense with his 15.8 points per game average and 44% conversion rate on 3-pointers. He scored 18 points or more in UVA’s final four regular season games, and his KenPom offensive rating of 124.9 ranks 45th in the country — second-highest on the Cavaliers, trailing Murphy. Hauser turned the ball over on just 9.7% of his possessions and has committed more than three personal fouls in a game just once this year, meaning he hardly leaves the court because of turnovers or foul trouble.
Stat to know: 66.2 and 68.2
Huff’s effective field goal percentage and total shooting percentage rank 15th and 13th in the country, per KenPom, and have carried the redshirt senior center to second-team All-ACC honors. He led the conference in field-goal percentage (59.1%) and scored in double-figures 14 times for the Cavaliers.
When Syracuse and Virginia met earlier this season, Huff shot 8-of-11 from the field and added 12 rebounds.
The post Opponent preview: What to know about Virginia before ACC quarterfinals appeared first on The Daily Orange.