NCAA Basketball Countdown: #4 Virginia Cavaliers

After a second place finish in the ACC last year, which could’ve been a lot worse, the Cavaliers look to get back to their national championship form this year. Last year finishing 42nd in KenPom’s rankings, the second place ACC finish last year makes them seem better than they were.

2019-2020 Record: 23-7

National Championship Odds: +1400

ACC Championship Odds: +215

Key Returners

Kihei Clark: 10.08 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5.9 APG

Sam Hauser (Marquette Transfer): 14.9 PPG, 2.4 APG, 7.2 RPG

Jay Huff: 8.5 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 0.8 APG

Key Recruits

Sam Hauser: Marquette Transfer

Jabri Abdur-Rahim: 4 Star Small Forward

Reece Beekman: 4 Star Point Guard

Carson McCorkle: 3 Star Shooting Guard

Upcoming Games

DateOpponentTime (EST)
11/25Maine (N)2:00 pm
11/27Florida (N)11:30 am
12/1Saint Francis (PA.)4:00 pm
12/4Kent State6:00 pm
12/9#13 Michigan StateTBA
12/12William & MaryTBA

Season Preview

Kihei Clark first made a name for himself as a freshman in the NCAA tournament with a big game-saving play vs. Purdue chasing down a loose ball in the backcourt and making a pass to Mamadi Diakite at the buzzer. Now Clark steps into a much more significant role where he will have to become a primary scoring option while still being a smart-minded point guard. He will get some help from Sam Hauser, who transferred from Marquette and sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules. Hauser will be the teams leading scorer this year and bring some big-time 3-point shooting.

Virginia makes their name known on defense but with Hauser’s addition, look for them to start putting up more points. At Marquette, he shot 44.5% from deep, which gives the Hoos some shooting and a reliable go-to scorer, which they lacked last year. Defensively, Virginia will remain the same and force teams into long offensive possessions resulting in a bad shot. Jay Huff, the seven-footer, returns for his senior season. Huff led the ACC in block rate and was a crucial reason for the Hoos ranking 3rd in defensive FG% at the rim, per hoop-math. Huff is an essential piece in an unproven frontcourt after the loss of Diakite.

Personally, the bottom line for Virginia this year will be the trio of Clark, Hauser, and Huff and how they can use their experience to win ball games. Virginia built its brand with experience but will still rely on incoming freshmen like Jabri Abdur-Rahim and Reece Beekman to play prominent roles. The Hoos are ACC favorites for a reason, and I expect Tony Bennett to be right up towards the top once again.

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