Wednesday, March 9, 2011

game preview: Miami

Date/Time: Thu., March 10; 12:00

TV: Raycom, ESPN3

History against the Canes: 4-8

Last matchup: Miami 70, UVA 68; 2/5/11; Coral Gables

Last game: UVA 74, Md. 60 (3/5); GT 66, Miami 57 (3/6)

Opposing blogs: seriously, you wouldn't even know there's an ACC Tournament if all you read was Miami blogs.


National: UVA #94; Miami #64
Offense: UVA #126; Miami #36
Defense: UVA #74; Miami #106

Tournament time, and raise your hand if you thought UVA would be the 8th seed with a 7-9 record before the season. Those of you in the media, put your hands down, I see you there. No, my hand's not up either. After three straight (competitive) losses, this team finished the season legitimately on fire - 4-1 in the last five - leaving a trail of bad-loss marks in their wake. Ha. No tournament for you, Maryland.


- No big games for anyone. Miami gets very balanced scoring- sort of. It's more like, on any given night just about anyone on their roster is capable of going off. Reggie Johnson, Malcolm Grant, Rion Brown - they've all had their turn playing the star. Against UVA in February it was Adrian Thomas. Miami's losses - even those where they top 70 points - usually occur when nobody steps up to have a big night. The key number seems to be 18 points; keep everyone under 18 points and that's likely to end in a UVA win. It requires very disciplined defense, of course, and double-teams in the post to nullify the size advantage Miami has with Johnson.

- Get ahead early. A repeat from last time. Yeah, "get ahead early" is exactly what happened, not to mention "get ahead late," and it technically didn't work. Well, it damn well should've. It will this time. Once again, Miami might not be in the best frame of mind, coming off a loss to a team that shouldn't have beaten them. But this one's really not about Miami, it's about UVA, which is riding a wave of confidence right now. They've forgotten they're supposed to be this lousy bottom-feeder. Keep the confidence going and it'll just build on itself.


- Foul. Lost in the disappointment over the 9-for-22 free throw shooting was Miami's excellent performance on their end at 17/22. This is a solid free throw team, and the free throws resulting from fouling three-point shooters were the stake through the heart. Miami can score many different ways, and giving them and-1 chances or getting them into the bonus only exacerbates the problem. Don't foul on defense.

- Poor guard play. It took one of Mu Farrakhan's best nights to get as close as we did to winning last time, as well as en fuego three-point shooting from Joe Harris and Sammy Zeglinski. I think UVA can survive a mediocre night from outside, but not a bad one. We ain't getting no 15 points from Assane Sene against this team.


I wanted this one, because I wanted another shot at Miami. So you can blame me if it doesn't go well. I don't think that'll be the case. UVA is playing with confidence and maybe even a mission; Miami is just sort of playing. The crowd should be in our favor; there'll certainly be a larger contingent of UVA fans than Miami fans, and Miami never wins the hearts of neutral observers. With a friendly crowd and the confidence gained from beating Maryland at Maryland, I'll offer up a little confidence of my own. I never do this unless asked, but here goes anyway: 70-62, UVA.

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