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Louisville vs. Virginia preview

Go Cards.

Louisville v Arkansas Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Louisville Cardinals (6-13, 1-7) vs. Virginia Cavaliers (14-5, 4-3)

Game Time: Noon

Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.

Television: The CW

Announcers: Ryan Burr (play-by-play) and Ryan Oliver (analyst)

Favorite: Virginia by 7

Series: Virginia leads, 23-5

Last Meeting: Virginia won 77-53 on Jan. 3 in Charlottesville

Series History:

Probable Starting Lineups:

Louisville

  • G Skyy Clark (6-3, 205, So.)
  • G Tre Whte (6-7, 205, So.)
  • G/F Mike James (6-5, 200, R-So.)
  • G/F Curtis Williams (6-5, 205, Fr.)
  • F Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (6-10, 240, Jr.)

Virginia

  • G Reece Beekman (6-3, 194, Sr.)
  • G Isaac McKneely (6-4, 188, So.)
  • G Andrew Rohde (6-6, 202, So.)
  • G Ryan Dunn (6-8, 216, So.)
  • F Jacob Groves (6-9, 211, Gr.)

Statistics:

Relevant Videos:

About Virginia:

Not a ton has changed since Virginia’s 24-point thumping of Louisville 23 days ago in Charlottesville, but there are reasons to believe that the Cardinals can fare better in the rematch Saturday afternoon inside the KFC Yum Center.

For starters, UVA has been a different team on the road this season. The Cavaliers are 1-4 in true road games and have suffered all five of their losses by 16 or more points away from John Paul Jones Arena.

Secondly. Tony Bennett’s team has struggled offensively this season and enters the weekend playing some of its worst offensive basketball of the season. The Cavaliers are 174th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency, good for 14th in the ACC, behind only the team they will face on Saturday. While they shoot the three at a solid clip, UVA isn’t loaded with the type of offensive playmakers they’ve been blessed with in years past, and their two-point field goal percentage numbers reflect that.

Defensively, it’s business as usual. UVA ranks second nationally in scoring defense (57.8 ppg), third in turnovers per game (8.6), sixth in assist/turnover ratio (1.82) and fouls per game (13.1), seventh in turnover margin (4.9), 16th in field goal percentage defense (39.4) and 31st in blocks per game (4.9).

The Cavaliers return just one starter — First Team preseason All-ACC honoree Reece Beekman (13.1 ppg, 6.1 apg, 3.3 rpg and 2.2 spg) — from last season’s ACC regular-season champion team that finished 25-8. He’s been stellar so far in his senior year, and has scored in double figures in 10 straight games.

Sophomore guard Isaac McKneely, who played in a reserve role last season, is the team’s only other double figure scorer at 11.8 ppg. McKneely is one of the best three-point shooters in the country at 46.5 percent, and has made two or more triples in 13 of 19 games this season.

Everything else you need to know about this year you probably already know: They play slow (second-slowest pace in the country), they defend the hell out of you with their packline defense, they don’t allow second chance opportunities, we never beat them, Beekman has been there for 29 years, etc. There’s no point in making this section any longer than it needs to be.

Notable:

—Virginia has a three-game win streak at KFC Yum Center and has won 17 of the last 18 meetings with Louisville.

—The Cardinals are 4-10 all-time against Virginia in games played in Louisville, and 2-7 against the Hoos inside the Yum Center.

—U of L is 2-18 against Virginia since joining the ACC.

—Louisville has used eight different starting lineups and is 3-5 when using a new starting lineup. The Cardinals have started 12 different players this season among an initial roster of 15 players.

—Over the last six games, the Cardinals are 43-for-105 (41%) from 3-point range. Louisville has had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in six of the last nine games after only accomplishing the feat in two of the first 10 games. The Cardinals have shot 45% or better from the field in six straight games.

—U of L’s Kenny Payne and Virginia’s Tony Bennett are two of 29 Division I head coaches in the country who were NBA Draft picks. Payne was selected 19th by the 76ers in 1989, while Bennett was the Hornets’ second-round pick in 1992.

—Virginia’s Isaac McKneely ranks third nationally and first in the ACC in 3-point percentage at 46.5 percent. McKneely’s 12 3-pointers in back-to-back games against Syracuse and NCCU (career-best 6 in each game) were the most at UVA in a two-game span since Kyle Guy made 13 in 2019.

—Virginia has ranked sixth nationally in scoring defense in each of the past three seasons. They’re currently No. 2.

—UVA is 9-0 when out-rebounding its opponents and has limited 17 of its 19 foes to less than 50 percent shooting.

—Virginia is 113-2, including a 4-0 mark in 2023-24, when limiting foes to fewer then 50 points during the Tony Bennett era.

—Tony Bennett is 18-2 as a head coach in games against Louisville.

—Louisville is 3-26 in ACC games under the direction of head coach Kenny Payne.

—Louisville is 223-15 over the last 20 seasons and 20-3 over the last three when scoring 80 points or more. The Cards are 4-1 in such games this season.

—Since 2004, Louisville is 129-0 when leading by more than 10 points at halftime.

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

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Virginia 68, Louisville 62