The Miami Hurricanes desperately need some wins, and it does not get any easier with their upcoming game. The ‘Canes have a tall task in the Virginia Cavaliers on the road Monday night.
“Every game now moving forward is very important,” said junior guard Bensley Joseph. “Just having a 1-0 mindset. We have a tough opponent in Virginia on Monday so we have to get healthy, rest our bodies, and just get ready to play a big game on Monday in Charlottesville.”
Under coach Tony Bennett, the Cavaliers (17-5) have rattled off six straight wins and are second in the ACC. The championship pedigree of this team is as strong as ever. A trio of talented guards leads the team.
A pair of sophomore guards, Isaac McKneely and Ryan Dunn, are vital cogs in Bennett’s offense. Dunn leads the team in rebounds with 7.3 and will most likely draw a matchup with Miami’s Kyshawn George or Matt Cleveland.
Senior guard Reece Beekman leads the Cavaliers. The Wisconsin native leads the team in points and assists with 13.3 and 6.1, respectively. Beekman does a little of everything for coach Bennett and must be a focal point for Miami.
Virginia plays a similar style to the ‘Canes. Both teams play a smaller lineup and need a true center. Dunn does much of his work in the paint while being listed as a guard. While the two teams’ size is similar, Virginia’s style is identical to that of Miami’s last opponent.
“The good part for us is that our preparation for Virginia Tech is very similar to our preparation for the University of Virginia,” said coach Jim Larrañaga. “They both run that ‘pack’ defense and they both run a lot of motion-type offense.”
Virginia’s defense is a step up from Virginia Tech’s. The Cavaliers are the 12th-best team in the country in adjusted defense. The Cavaliers like to play a very conservative and controlled style of basketball that limits turnovers and foul shots.
The ‘Canes excel in a fast-paced game, and Miami must get Virginia out of its element to control this game. Miami is finally back to total health and can run what they want in practice. This should help the pace of the game as coach Larrañaga finally has his full complement of players available.
Still, this will be a very tough test. The Cavaliers feast on turnovers and are very good at causing them. Miami has turned the ball over way too much against teams with lesser defenses than the one the Hurricanes will face on Monday in Charlottesville.
“Virginia is a very good team. Very well-coached team. They have a lot of experience in the backcourt and the frontcourt,” said Joseph. “So, our message is just to do what we do well, sharing the ball, talking a lot on defense, and bringing that energy from start to finish. We know it’s going to be a battle playing up there; they had a long home streak, so just come in there and do what we do best and lock in and play Miami basketball, and try and get out of there with a victory.”
Tip-off for this big-time ACC matchup is set for 7 P.M. The game will air on ESPN.
All stats and data via ESPN and KenPom unless otherwise noted.