Getting to Know Virginia
The Florida Gators will square off against the Virginia Cavaliers in the round of 32 Saturday night in Orlando. Virginia holds a record of 23-10(11-7). Just like Florida, Virginia was pegged by many as a first round upset favorite. The Cavaliers found themselves in tough position in the first half down 15, but terrific play from London Perrantes and 3pt shooting helped lead the team to a 76-71 win against UNCW.
Florida and Virginia are similar in the fact that both teams identity is found in defense. Virginia leads the nation in scoring defense only allowing 56.1 ppg. In 17 games this year, they kept opposing teams to 54 points or less. They play a pack line defense, which focuses on preventing penetration in the lane and forces teams to beat you from the outside. Virginia also does a good job in playing pressure defense without fouling. They have committed 520 fouls, which puts them at the 27th fewest fouls in the country. The goal of the UVA defense is to slow teams down and make them try to score in the half court.
London Perrantes is the veteran leader for Virginia. He has played in many big games in his career, and isn’t fazed by the bright lights. Perrantes averages 12.5 ppg and shoots 38% from behind the arc. Marial Shayok has also been a great asset to UVA this season. He has great length and is a versatile scorer, averaging 8.6 ppg on the season. Devon Hall is a versatile athletic forward who helps the team in many areas. He is 2nd on the team in rebounds, averaging 4.5 per game. Kyle Guy is a dynamic shooter who has the ability to catch fire. Guy shoots the ball .505% from distance.
The key to Virginia’s first round win over UNCW was the big shots from Perrantes, who had 24 points, shooting 9/14 from the field. Many of his buckets came in crucial moments with less than 10 seconds on the shot clock. Another guy that gave Virginia a huge game was Marial Shayok. Skayok dropped in 23 points and it was obvious that his length and versatility was a problem for UNCW. UVA shot 50% from the field and 41% from behind the arc.
If you like watching a low scoring defensive battle, then this will be your type of game. Tony Bennett’s team ranks 2nd in defensive efficiency, while Florida ranks 4th. Virginia wants to keep the game at a slower pace and is going to look to force the Gators to score in the half court. The pressure and sound fundamentals make scoring on this defense in the half court a difficult task. The Gators thrive in forcing turnovers and getting out in transition. Florida has to speed up the tempo and make this an up and down game. Florida must set the tone early and force the tempo in their favor. Jumping out to an early lead would be huge for Florida, due to UVA’s inability to score at times.
Virginia’s leading rebounder and shot blocker, Isaiah Wilkins is listed as doubtful for Saturday night’s game against Florida. Wilkins only played 5 minutes, due to strep throat. Wilkins has had 43 blocks on the season and averages 6 rebounds per game. Virginia will miss the presence that he has around the rim. Florida needs to look to attack the rim in his absence.
Another key factor for the Gators will be the production of KeVaughn Allen and Canyon Barry. Allen was 1/11 from the field against ETSU, while Barry was just 1/4. Robinson picked up the slack by scoring 24 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. The Gators need the scoring ability of Allen and Barry against the stout UVA defense. When Allen and Barry are knocking down shots, Florida is a much more dangerous team.