(Photo of David Johnson, Jay Huff: Jamie Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - After having the contest against Virginia Tech cancelled due to COVID-19 issues with the Hokies, the Louisville men's basketball program is now left with just one game left on the regular season.
Next up for the Cardinals (13-5, 8-4 ACC), they will host the Virginia Cavaliers (16-6, 12-4 ACC) as part of their annual Senior Night. Tipoff is scheduled for Saturday, Mar. 6 at 4:00pm EST, and can be viewed on ESPN2.
Here are a couple of the more significant storylines to follow ahead of Cardinals' matchup with the Cavaliers:
Double or Nothing for a Double Bye
Saturday's regular season finale has more than just win/loss implications, at least for one team. With a conference record of 12-4 (.750), Virginia has already clinched a double bye as well as a top-two seed for the ACC Tournament.
As for Louisville, their seeding is not exactly set in stone. With just six in-conference games left across the league as of this writing, the Cardinals' seed can be be anywhere from No. 3 all the way down to No. 7.
Louisville needs either a three or four seed to clinch a double bye for the ACC Tournament, and in games played through Wednesday, Mar 3, they have a 48% chance to receive either seeds.
There are several situations as to how the Cards can reach whichever seed they are inevitably awarded, but at the end of the day, they are almost assured a double bye if they simply beat Virginia. Lose that game, and their hopes of attaining it go out the window.
Yep, They're Still Virginia
Even during a year full of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia basketball is still the same it has always been under head coach Tony Bennett.
Unsurprisingly, the Hoos operate at the slowest pace in all of Division I men's basketball, with an adjusted tempo of 60.3 (the next-closest is Mount St. Mary's 62.0, D1 average is 68.7) according to KenPom.
With all the methodical offenses that UVA has had under Bennett, this is arguably one of his best shooting teams. Their three-point shooting percentage of 39.2% is the eight-best in the nation, their field goal percentage of 48.0% is 30th and tops the ACC, giving Virginia their best effective field goal percentage (56.2%) since Bennett was hired.
Oddly enough, however, Virginia's stout pack-line defense has not carried its normal weight this season as it has in years past. They are allowing their opponents to shoot 41.8% from the field (102nd in D1), 33.8% on three-point attempts (186th in D1) and are only forcing 9.68 turnovers per game (337th in D1)
The Big Three
While Virginia has always done a relatively solid job of getting their entire team to contribute, this year, three players have been the engine driving the Cavaliers throughout the year.
UVA has a solid interior presence thanks to redshirt senior forwards Sam Hauser and Jay Huff. Both are averaging double digit scoring while hauling in nearly seven rebounds, with Hauser putting up 15.5 & 6.7 and Huff pouring in 13.3 & 6.9. It also helps that both are shooting north of 40% on three-pointers and above 50% from the field, with Huff's 58.5% field goal percentage coming in as the 17th-best in D1.
While junior guard Kihei Clark might not be a prolific scorer, as he averages 9.8 points per game, he is a bonafide playmaker. His 4.6 assists per game is third in the ACC behind only Notre Dame's Prentiss Hubb and Louisville's Carlik Jones.
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