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March 2, 2016BasketballVirginia Cavaliers ready for March Madness

Malcolm Brogdon

March 2, 2016 Louisville, KY. (Analyzed Sports)

Virginia Cavaliers ready for March Madness

Coming into the weekend the game was the premier game with both teams being ranked in the top 10.  The outcome had regular season champion on line and seeding ramifications for the ACC tournament. After a tough loss to Miami, Virginia’s home fans came out for a sellout at John Paul Jones Arena. The third-ranked Virginia Cavaliers rebounded from a tough loss to the Miami Hurricanes with a confidence-boosting 79-74 win over the No. 7 North Carolina Tar Heels. The win is Virginia’s 19th in a row and is in prime position to capture a No. 1 seed when the NCAA tournament brackets are revealed. North Carolina fell out of solo possession of first place with the loss, now tied with Miami at 12-4. Virginia moved into a tie with Louisville for second place at 11-5, and now they’ve got the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Tar Heels.

North Carolina (23-6, 12-4) entered Saturday’s ACC showdown ranked 301st in the nation with a three-point conversion rate of 31.4 percent (source: ESPN). But this did not rear its ugly head in the first half. Twenty of Carolina’s 29 FGA were by perimeter players. At half time the score was 38-35. In the beginning of the second half the game plan changed as the Tar Heels began to feed the ball inside. Johnson and Meeks carved out space in the paint and capitalized on second-chance opportunities.

Virginia Cavaliers ready for March Madness

Anthony Gill

As the games pace slowed down Virginia (22-6, 11-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) was able to ramp up the defensively pressure forced the Tar Heels into a multiple of turnovers and contested UNC shots well into the shot clock. Virginia built an 11-point lead midway through the second half, and its ability to dictate the action offensively and defensively forced Carolina to scramble. North Carolina was able to cut an 11-point deficit to three in the waning seconds of regulation, but the Tar Heels didn’t have enough offense to mount a comeback on a night when Marcus Paige scored just 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting.

Joel Berry II led Carolina with 21 points in the loss as Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks added 12 and six points, respectively. Malcolm Brogdon starred for Virginia with 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including a 3-of-5 mark from three-point range, while London Perrantes added 12 points and six assists. Anthony Gill chipped in with 15 points, but Virginia’s scoring distribution didn’t balance out until the second half.

”I just had opportunities,” Brogdon said. . ”I try to come out aggressive every game. I try to take what the defense gives me but at the same time, I try to sense when my team is struggling on offense or doing well on offense and I try to adjust my game to that.”

Coming to ACC play Virginia lost three of its first five ACC contests, but Tony Bennett did not panic. He continued to tweak, and the veterans bought into Bennett’s methods. Malcolm Brogdon, Anthony Gill and London Perrantes continued to battle, but there was no panic. Now Virginia is in prime position to make a deep run in March.

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