NC Central at Virginia Basketball Preview
By Josh Burton
Coming off a monumental week in which the University of Virginia Men’s Basketball team beat Texas A&M 59-47 followed by beating Syracuse 84-62, the Cavaliers will be back in action for their third game in seven days as they host North Carolina Central on Tuesday (12/5). The game will tip off at 7 pm EST and will be available on ESPN+ and ACCNX.
About NC Central
The North Carolina Central University Eagles of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference are led by head coach LeVelle Moton. Moton is in his 15th season as the head coach, collecting a 250-189 record to go along with four regular season and four conference tournament championships. He has also been named conference coach of the year twice. This season, NC Central is 4-5 and coming off a close 85-82 home loss to South Carolina Upstate on Saturday.
The Eagles run a ton of small lineups, opting to start with four guards in every game so far this season. 6’8” senior Emmanuel Izunabor is usually the only starting forward, but he did not play in their last game. There is no available information as to why he missed, so his status for the game is uncertain. Here are the projected starters:
PG - Fred Cleveland Jr. (5’9” senior). Averages 13.6 points and 3.9 assists
G - Ja’Darius Harris (6’2” senior). Averages 13.9 points while hitting 37.8 % from three
G - Po’Boigh King (6’4” sophomore). Averages team high 15.6 points with 4.8 rebounds per game.
G - Cobey Harraway (6’7” junior). Has started every game but only plays 16.3 minutes per game.
F - Perry Smith Jr. (6’9” sophomore). Averages 6.6 points and 5 rebounds per game
Being that this is an undersized opponent who runs a lot of four guards, this should be an excellent opportunity for the Hoos to run some of their smaller lineups. Look for first-year Elijah Gertrude to continue to build on his successful showings so far and get some good minutes in this one. This could also be another contest where the Hoos use the frontcourt pairing of Leon Bond III and Ryan Dunn for stretches.
Backup Lead Guard
Another thing to watch for is who is used as the lead guard when Reece Beekman gets a breather. With Dante Harris out both games this week, the Hoos have taken a couple different approaches when Reece sits. Wednesday night against Texas A&M, they mainly relied upon Andrew Rohde to run the point in these situations. He did a good job collecting 3 assists while looking steady with the ball in his hands initiating the offense.
On Saturday against Syracuse, however, they also added to this by letting Gertrude initiate the offense on a few possessions. Final score aside, Elijah getting solid minutes and also being allowed to play the lead guard for stretches in the ACC opener speaks volumes to what the coaching staff thinks of his future as a Wahoo.
Following this game, the Cavaliers will go on an 11 day break for exams. The next contest will be Saturday (12/16) at JPJ against Northeastern. Locker Room Access will have full coverage!
(Featured Image Credit: Getty)