Virginia vs. Miami prediction and game preview. The Cavaliers are trying to break a three-game skid, while the Hurricanes could use a win over a ranked team.
Virginia vs. Miami Game Preview
When: Monday, Feb. 20 – 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
TV Broadcast: ESPN
Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers (18-8, 8-6 ACC) are looking to snap a three-game skid, with the latest loss coming at the hands of North Carolina. The Tar Heels claimed a 65-41 win in Chapel Hill, using 20 points from Justin Jackson as they shot 47 percent and led throughout. UVA was unable to keep up with a Tar Heels team that played fast and provided all kinds of problems to a defense that had been surrendering the fewest points in the nation.
Meanwhile, Jim Larrañaga’s Hurricanes (18-8, 8-6) are coming off of their second straight win, as they claimed a 71-65 victory over Clemson in Coral Gables on Saturday. Kamari Murphy had a career high 15 points to help the short-handed Hurricanes and improve ther NCAA Tournament résumé. The ‘Canes played their second game without starting point guard Ja’Quan Newton, who is serving a three-game suspension because of a violation of team rules. Miami only used two reserves against Brad Brownell’s Tigers.
When these teams met last March in Washington, D.C., during the ACC Tournament, the Cavaliers fended off a feisty Miami squad in a 73-68 win to reach the tournament final. The Cavaliers never trailed, as ACC player of the year Malcolm Brogdon finished with 24 points.
Virginia Wins If …
… The Cavaliers shoot better than the 28 percent they shot against the Tar Heels. UVA missed its first 17 3-pointers on Saturday night, finishing 2 of 20 from behind the arc. That won’t cut it against any opponent.
UVA leaves a lot to be desired in terms of its frontcourt scoring, so it has no chance for victory when it is not connecting on its perimeter shots. The Cavaliers entered their game against UNC ranked second in the ACC in shooting percentage, so it’s a team led by senior guard London Perrantes that is very capable of hitting its groove once again.
Miami Wins If …
… The Hurricanes receive a balanced scoring effort. Guard Davon Reed needs to lead the effort, and his ability to hit from downtown will challenge UVA’s defense. He averages about 16 points per game and is hitting 41 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. Also keep an eye on freshman guard Bruce Brown. His play has been up and down, but the freshman is capable of a big game like the one he had against UNC (30 points).
In their six-point win over Clemson on Saturday, the ‘Canes held the Tigers to 17 percent shooting from downtown. That’s worrisome for a Virginia offense that has been anemic as of late.
Matchup To Watch
UVA’s defense vs. Miami’s defense
The Cavaliers entered their game against UNC having surrendered the fewest points in the nation, but the Hurricanes have a defense that should not be overlooked. It ranks 32nd in the nation and is allowing just over 64 points per game, which doesn’t bode well for a UVA offense that has been scuffling. Which defense can make it tougher on its opponent in a game that figures to be close?
Spread: Virginia -9.5
Virginia vs. Miami Prediction
The Hurricanes have won four of their last five games and are tied with Virginia at 8-6 in the conference. Their only two losses in their last six games have come against Florida State and Louisville, so it’s a team that could give UVA problems. However, Bennett and Co. are desperate for a win, and they’ll break their current skid in a home environment after playing their worst game of the season on Saturday night.
Virginia vs. Miami final score prediction: Virginia 67, Miami 61