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Mallard Madness: Can the Ducks survive the Cavaliers?

Will this be a sweet or sour sixteen?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Virginia vs Oklahoma Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight at 6:57 PM PT on TBS, the #1-seed Virginia Cavaliers will play against the #12-seed Oregon Duck!

SEASON THUS FAR

RECORD: 31-3, 16-2

BEST WINS: Wisconsin, Florida State, @ North Carolina, Virginia Tech, @ Virginia Tech, Oklahoma

LOSSES: @ Duke, Duke, Florida State

COMMON OPPONENTS: Wisconsin, Syracuse,

LAST 5 GAMES:

  • W (3/9) Louisville, 73-68
  • W (3/14) ACC Tourney, NC State, 75-56
  • L (3/15) ACC Tourney, Florida State, 59-69
  • W (3/22) First Round, Gardner-Webb, 71-56
  • W (3/24) Second Round, Oklahoma, 63-51

SEASON SUMMARY: Virginia’s trio of talented guards have led this team to a 31-3 record and a second straight ACC regular season championship. The Cavaliers opened the season against a trio of cupcakes (Towson, George Washington, Coppin State), where Guy, Hunter and Jerome each had at least one twenty-point game.

The Cavaliers picked up some early momentum by winning the Battle 4 Atlantis, a three-day competition that concluded with a 53-46 win over Wisconsin in the Title game. Four different players scored in double digits to beat then-No. 24 Mar yland in the ACC/BIG10 Challenge.

Virginia raced through their final five non-conference games, outscoring their opponents 381 to 250. Their most noteworthy victories during this stretch came against tournament team VCU, 57-49, on the road against South Carolina. 69-52, and against Marshall where they scored a season-high 100 to 64.

Conference play began with a 65-52 victory over Florida State, though the Seminoles would exact their revenge during the ACC Tournament, and continued with dominating wins over Boston College, Clemson, and Virginia Tech.

Duke handed Virginia their first loss of the season on the road. A late game offensive drought damned the Cavaliers in what proved to be a nail-biter, and the Blue Devils were able to defeat the Nation’s last undefeated team, 72-70.

Wins over Wake Forest and Notre Dame provided the prefect opportunity to bounce back, but NC State proved far more competitive, taking Virginia to overtime but eventually falling by a score of 66 to 65. A victory against the Hurricanes put the Cavaliers back on track, but another loss to Duke derailed their lofty goals.

A 12-2 run led to a big victory over then-No. 8 North Carolina, thanks in large part to a couple of huge late-game triples bu Kyle Guy. Back to back six-point victories over Notre Dame and then-No. 20 Virginia Tech followed,

Easy wins over Louisville, Georgia Tech, Pitt, and Syracuse had Virginia looking like the best team in the country, led by a stifling defense and red-hot three-point shooting. A much closer game against Louisville closed out the regular season and resulted in yet another conference win for the Cavaliers, finishing with a 16-2 conference record.

Virginia was able to skip the first two rounds of the ACC Tournament by earning the 1-seed. A 76-56 victory in the quarterfinals against 8-seed NC State was followed by a surprising loss to Florida State in the semis.

The Cavaliers received another 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament and things looked scary for a moment when 16-seed Gardner-Webb led by six points at the half (little known fact: last season, Virginia became the only 1-seed ever to lose to a 16-seed), but a strong defensive showing in the second half kept them from suffering the ultimate embarrassment... again.

Virginia was dominant against No.9 seed Oklahoma, 63-51, and now face the Oregon Ducks in the Sweet Sixteen.


STAT COMPARISON

  • CAVALIERS score 71.6 PPG
  • DUCKS allow 62.5
  • CAVALIERS shoot .479% from the floor
  • DUCKS allow .399%
  • CAVALIERS shoot .401% from three
  • DUCKS allow .291%
  • CAVALIERS average 34.7 rebounds
  • DUCKS allow 32.8
  • CAVALIERS allow 55.0 PPG
  • DUCKS score 70.6
  • CAVALIERS allow .381% from the floor
  • DUCKS shoot .452%
  • CAVALIERS allow .278% from three
  • DUCKS shoot .351%
  • CAVALIERS allow 29.5 rebounds
  • DUCKS average 34.3
  • CAVALIERS average 14.3 assists/ 9.1 turnovers

VIRGINIA STARTERS

#12 De’Andre Hunter

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Virginia vs Oklahoma Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

6’7, Guard, rSophomore

(34 GP - .529 FG% - .446 3PT% - .789 FT% - 15.2 PPG - 5.0 REB)

Last year’s ACC Sixth Man of the Year winner is now the Cavaliers’ leading scorer and has started every game this season. Hunter has scored double digits in all but four games this season and is coming off a 23-point and 10-point game against Gardner-Webb and Oklahoma, respectively.


#5 Kyle Guy

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Virginia vs Oklahoma Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

6’2, Guard, Junior

(34 GP - .454 FG% - .439 3PT% - .819 FT% - 15.1 PPG - 4.4 REB)

Guy is the best three-point shooter on a team full of excellent three-point shooters. Against Syracuse, the junior hit a career-high eight triples, and earlier this season he scored a career-high 30 points against Marshall. Some well placed shots from downtown would be the perfect antidote against Oregon’s zone defense.


#11 Ty Jerome

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Virginia vs Oklahoma Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

6’5, Guard, Junior

(33 GP - .438 FG% - .400 3PT% - .734 FT% - 13.0 PPG - 3.9 REB)

Jerome has shown up offensively in Virginia’s biggest games. He leads the team in assists and should be able to work around Oregon’s bigs whether it’s through distributing the ball or taking it into his own hands.


#25 Mamadi Diakite

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Virginia vs Oklahoma Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

6’9, Forward, rJunior

(34 GP - .562 FG% - .385 3PT% - .692 FT% - 7.4 PPG - 4.0 REB)

At 6-foot-9, Diakite’s talents will be in tall demand against Oregon’s tall firs. The junior could make a huge impact on the game by winning some rebound battles and preventing the easy Pritchard layup.


#33 Jack Salt

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

6’10, Center, rSenior

(33 GP - .607 FG% - .000 3PT% - .511 FT% - 4.0 PPG - 3.8 REB)

Jack Salt started every game during the 2016 and ‘17 season, but a back injury has steadily decreased his minutes and kept him from starting against Middle Tennessee and Dayton, and miss the matchup against Coppin State. It’s quite possible that we see Braxton Key in this spot as he’s received a larger role this season, but if Salt is in the game it’s most likely because the Cavaliers want to take on Oregon’s size head on.


PANIC LEVEL

Virginia has the best scoring defense in the country (55.0 OPP PPG), have the sixth best assist-to-turnover ratio (1.57) and have the fifth best three-point percentage. They love to slow down games and force their opponents to make mistakes while playing relatively mistake-free themselves.

Oregon is a damn fine team and should be proud of how far they’ve come, but Virginia is a 1-seed for a reason and is a favorite on just about every credible prediction site. The Ducks are playing inspired defense, but their stretches of inefficient offense could block their path to the Elite Eight.

11 out of 12 Truck Stop Conferences

SCORE PREDICTION

CAVALIERS 68 - DUCKS 56