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Louisville-Virginia preview

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After a disappointing Saturday, it’s a quick turnaround for Chris Mack’s Cardinals.

Notre Dame v Louisville Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Louisville Cardinals (11-8, 5-4) at Virginia Cavaliers (11-8, 5-4)

Game Time: 7:01 p.m.

Location: John Paul Jones Arena: Charlottesville, Va.

Television: ESPN

Announcers: Dan Shulman (play-by-play), Cory Alexander (analyst) and Andraya Carter (reporter)

Favorite: Virginia by 5

Officials: Kipp Kissinger, Jeb Hartness, Doug Sirmons

Series: Virginia leads, 17-5

Last Meeting: Virginia won 68-58 on March 6, 2021 in Louisville

Series History:

Possible Starting Lineups:

Statistics:

Relevant Videos:

About Virginia:

Unless something wild happens — and at this point, no one will or should put that possibility past a Tony Bennett coached team — Virginia will see its streak of seven consecutive NCAA tournament appearances come to an end this March. Slow starts aren’t a new thing for the Cavaliers under Bennett, but unlike in other recent seasons, UVA doesn’t appear to be hitting its stride during conference play.

Virginia enters Monday night’s game against Louisville as losers of three of their last five. The most recent defeat of that stretch, a 14-point road loss to NC State on Saturday, may have been the most discouraging for fans of the Hoos still holding out hope for a midseason turnaround.

The most jarring thing about this Virginia team to date has been its struggles on the defensive end. Between 2013 and 2020, the Cavaliers were ranked in the nation’s top 10 in adjusted defensive efficiency every season, and five times finished the year ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the category. Heading into Monday night’s game, UVA is No. 98 in adjusted defensive efficiency, three spots lower than their offensive ranking. They’re coming off a game against NC State in which they allowed the Pack to make a dozen three-pointers, shoot 60.0 percent from the floor, and score 77 points. All three of those were season-worsts for the Cavalier defense.

East Carolina transfer Jayden Gardner has been the standout for the Cavaliers so far this season, averaging 13.9 points and 6.8 rebounds. Indiana transfer Aarman Franklin has been very up and down, but is second on the team in scoring at 12.3 ppg.

Kihei Clark is running the show for the Hoos for the 35th consecutive season and putting up very similar stats to the ones he produced as a sophomore and junior. Sophomore backcourt mate Reece Beekman has been Virginia’s best overall player in recent weeks, and is their top outside threat. He ranks first in the ACC in assist/turnover ratio (3.52) and steals (2.3 spg), second in assists (4.6 apg) and ninth in minutes played (34.5 mpg).

Notable:

—Louisville is just 2-11 against Virginia since joining the ACC in 2014-15, and 0-6 against the Cavaliers in Charlottesville.

—Because of Covid, last season marked the first time since 2014-15 that these two teams did not play a game inside John Paul Jones Arena.

—Virginia head coach Tony Bennett is 12-2 lifetime against Louisville.

—Louisville’s 34 ACC road wins in its eighth year in the league is the fourth-most in the ACC over that period.

—The Virginia coaching staff will wear pullovers in support of The American Cancer Society’s Coaches vs. Cancer - Suits And Sneakers Week (Jan. 24-30).

—UVA has held Louisville to 59 or fewer points in 10 of 14 contests since the Cardinals joined the ACC in 2014-15.

—Virginia leads the ACC in scoring defense (59.7 ppg) and is sixth in field goal percentage defense (.420).

—Louisville Director of Basketball Operations Taylor Barnette played basketball his freshman year at Virginia (2012-13) before finishing his collegiate career at Belmont (1,085 career points).

—Louisville has an all-time 14-7 record in games played on Jan. 24, winning six of the last seven games played on that date.

—Louisville has used 10 different starting lineups in 19 games so far this season.

—Louisville is 10-1 this season when shooting a better field goal percentage than their opponents and also 8-1 when shooting more free-throws than their foes.

—Louisville is 216-12 over the last 20 seasons and 13-0 over the last three when scoring 80 points or more.

—Louisville is 166-7 over the past 20 seasons when shooting 50 percent or better and 13-0 over the last three.

—Louisville is 34-3 over the last three seasons when scoring at least 71 points.

—Louisville is 14-0 over the past 10 seasons when limiting opponents to no more than one three-point field goal.

—Since 2004, Louisville is 130-0 when leading by more than 10 points at halftime.

—Louisville has won 162 consecutive games when holding an opponent under 50 points.

—Louisville has won 156 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.

—Louisville is one of only five schools to be ranked in the AP Top 25 poll at least once during each of the last 18 seasons (others: Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, & North Carolina).

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Virginia 63, Louisville 59