Syracuse’s next opponent: What to know about No. 2 Virginia
Published on March 3, 2019 at 10:51 pm Contact Charlie: [email protected] | @charliedisturco Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments After dominating Wake Forest on the road, Syracuse returns to the Carrier Dome on Monday night to take on No. 2 Virginia. For the third time in just over a week, SU will face a matchup with a top-5 opponent. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, have dominated since a loss to Duke in early February, winning six straight and holding opponents to 61 points or less in all of those games.Here’s what you need to know about Virginia.All-time series: Virginia leads, 6-5Last time they played: Inside the Carrier Dome, Syracuse’s offense struggled to beat the Cavaliers defense. The Orange scored just 21 first-half points and shot 34.8 percent from the field. UVA meanwhile shot 50 percent from the floor and jumped out to a double-digit lead.It set the stage of how the second half would play out: Syracuse’s poor shooting would ultimately spell doom. The Orange shot 10 percent from 3 in the latter frame and scored just 44 points total.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textVirginia finished with three players in double digits, with freshman De’Andre Hunter adding a team-high 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Tyus Battle scored 15 points, as only four total SU players would score in the 59-44 loss.The Virginia report: One of the more complete Virginia teams in recent years, the Cavaliers are not only known for their usual strength, defense, but have been among the best offensive teams in the country, too.UVA shoots the 3 at a 40-percent clip, fourth in the country. Hunter leads the way, shooting 46 percent, while juniors Kyle Guy (43.9) and Ty Jerome (40.9) have also strung together arguably their best seasons yet.Defense has always been UVA’s strong suit and the same could be said this season. The Cavaliers rank second in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, per Kenpom.com, and have held opponents under 60 points in all but six games.How Syracuse beats Virginia: As seen against North Carolina, Syracuse has been able to hang around with the best of the ACC. The Virginia defense is arguably the best in the country, and will pose a problem for the Orange. Syracuse’s offense needs to be at its best and take efficient shots. There have been glimpses of that: Elijah Hughes’ five first-half 3s against UNC, and Tyus Battle’s complete takeover for minutes at a time. (Again, think UNC and Boston College, among others).Even if Syracuse is able to put up points, the 2-3 zone will need to stifle the Cavaliers offense, which has shown it can put away any team, outside of Duke, with ease. If Hunter and Guy struggle early, SU needs to jump at the opportunity and take control on its home court.Stat to know: 26.7 — Opponents shoot just 26.7 percent from 3 against the Virginia defense. That ranks No. 1 in the country.KenPom odds: Syracuse has a 24 percent chance to upset Virginia, and is projected to lose 64-56.Player to watch: De’Andre Hunter, forward, No. 12After a redshirt year and a solid campaign last season, Hunter has emerged as Virginia’s most efficient player this season. The 6-foot-7 forward leads the team in points (15.2), is second in rebounds (5.3) and third in assists (2.1), all while shooting 54.7 percent from the field and 46 percent from 3. He was the leading scorer in last year’s matchup with Syracuse and will be one of the hardest players to guard Monday night.