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Virginia Men's Basketball

UVA vs Maine Preview: Upset Alert?

(Image – UVA Athletics)

Here we are folks. Over eight months since the 2019-2020 college basketball season was cut short, we’re finally back. We’ve finally arrived at the promised land. Our reward for the monotonous journey ridden with Twitter battles regarding font alterations, shifting uniforms, and new tertiary logos? We get Maine versus Virginia part two! The rematch of last season’s spectacle, this contest will be hard-pressed to provide the same entertainment of last year’s 46-26 barn-burner. Nonetheless, with our newly purchased Flosports accounts or trusty radio streams in hand, we’ve made it people. We’re here. 

In all seriousness, Maine is just a bad team. They were straight up horrible last season. If UVA had that type of game against any other opponent they faced the ‘Hoos would’ve had the doors blown off JPJ. Fortunately, this year’s team is much improved on the offensive side of the ball and should blow the doors off the Black Bears on Wednesday.

Why This Should Be a Blowout

Jumping into the matchup, it’s fairly obvious after looking at the numbers just how lopsided this contest ought to be. Last season, Maine had a putrid 92.9 offensive rating (330th nationally) with an ugly 106.8 defensive rating. On offense, they never found any type of consistent shot making from behind the arc, finishing the year with a team-wide 28.2% rate from deep, good for eleventh-worst nationally. Only two players returning this season shot over 30% from three last season, as Nedeljiko Prijovic and Mykhalio Yagodin boasted 32.9% and 31.9% rates last season. The team’s shooting from the floor wasn’t much better.

In addition to their issues shooting the ball, Maine struggled to take care of the ball last year. Their turnover rate of 22.9% was ninth-worst in college basketball last year and there’s no reason to suggest why that number would improve this year. In fact, with the departures of their two best players, Andrew Fleming and Sergio El Darwich, things look quite bleak for the Black Bears on the offensive end this season. Prijovic, as a 6’8”, 210 pound senior, is the lone returning double digit scorer from last season. He’s the only guy who could pose a threat on the offensive end. 

Defensively, Maine lacks the athletes to compete with Virginia. Their biggest player is the 6’8”, 245-pound Miks Antoms who only played 12.2 minutes per game last year. As such, Jay Huff – who had 13 points in last season’s matchup – and Francisco Caffaro should feast on the interior. Additionally, they don’t have a real wing defender to guard Sam Hauser, so it’s hard to see Maine stopping UVA’s big guys. 

Prediction

Virginia will win if: They don’t pull a UMBC. Their offensive talent is much better this year than last, and that offensive performance from last year’s game was horrendous. Defensively, they’re not going to hold Maine to 26 points again, but Maine just doesn’t have offensive weapons that are at all concerning. This should be an easy opening win. 

Maine will win if: Virginia’s offense is completely disorganized and lacks any chemistry. On top of that, poor shooters will have to completely light it up from behind the arc. 

Score prediction: Virginia 72 – Maine 44

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