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Virginia Men's Basketball

UVA vs N.C. State Preview: Can the ‘Hoos Get Back on Track?

Coming off back-to-back losses, the ‘Hoos look to get back on track Wednesday night at 6:30 in JPJ against N.C. State. Having beat the Wolfpack 64-57 back in early February, UVA will hope to nab a comfortable win over a very mediocre team.

What N.C. State has done this season

With a 10-9 overall record (6-8 in the ACC), State is on a two-game winning streak after losing eight of their previous 10 contests. Having beat Pitt and Wake Forest in the last week, the Wolfpack will be looking for a signature win against the ‘Hoos on Wednesday. 

In fact, N.C. State’s only notable win came in mid-December over a then-struggling UNC squad. In contrast, the Pack have dropped bad ones to Saint Louis and Miami and have been steamrolled by the top half of the ACC. 

Breaking N.C. State down

With star guard Devon Daniels out for the season with an ACL injury, N.C. State is led by big man DJ Funderburk, who chips in 12.1 points per contest, and wing Jericole Hellems, who puts up 13.3 points per game. In fact, Hellems gave the ‘Hoos issues back on the third as he scored 23-points on 9-15 shooting and 3-6 from behind the arc. Those two guys are the potential matchup issues as Virginia has struggled against versatile bigs like Funderburk and scoring wings like Hellems. 

As a team, N.C. State shoots the ball fairly well. Guards Thomas Allen — who shoots 37.9% from deep on 3.5 attempts per game — and Braxton Beverley — who hits 39.3% of his 3.2 long balls per game — can light it up from behind the arc. Additionally, Hellems is a real threat from the perimeter as a 40.7% three-point shooter on just under three attempts per game. 

Defensively, the Wolfpack are looking to force turnovers and generate easy looks for themselves on the other end. 19th nationally in defensive turnover rate per Bart Torvik, N.C. State has some nice length that can be disruptive. Additionally, starting center Manny Bates is a great shot blocker and has grown accustomed to erasing easy looks on the backside. 

Predictions:

UVA will win if: the ‘Hoos can get a high volume of looks for Sam Hauser and Jay Huff while also getting enough scoring from a backcourt that has struggled of late. On the other end, they’ll hope to keep Hellems from beating them. 

N.C. State will win if: the Wolfpack can push the pace and bother the ‘Hoos with their length defensively while forcing the guards to beat them. Offensively, they’ll hope to exploit a few of their matchup advantages.

Score prediction:  UVA 68 – N.C. State 59

(Image – Ethan Hyman)

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