No. 2: at Virginia (December 31st)
The Virginia Cavaliers lost their two best players off last year’s Elite Eight squad. However, this season, they seem to have picked up right where they left off. No, I don’t mean blowing a 16-point second half lead against Syracuse in their bigges3t game of the season. I meant that they’ve gone right back to being an elite defensive team.
According to KenPom, the Cavaliers play the second best defense in the country, behind just Louisville. Thanks to that defense, Virginia is currently 10-1, with the only loss coming to the 12th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers.
The team is led by senior point guard London Perrantes, who scores 10 points and dishes out four assists per game. And though he’s their only player who averages double digits in points, Virginia still has the tenth best adjusted offensive efficiency in all of college basketball.
Just like almost every year under head coach Tony Bennett, the Cavaliers play at an extremely slow pace. They average the lowest number of possessions per game in the country. So they force you to play at their tempo, which is something that FSU basketball will struggle against. The Seminoles are at their best when they play fast, and can get easy buckets in transition. Unless they can get Virginia to speed up, they will have a hard time scoring a lot of points in this contest.
It’s hard to see Florida State getting Virginia to change the way they play, especially since the game is in Charlottesville. That’s another reason why this matchup ranks so highly on our list. It’s the Seminoles’ first true road game all year.
For a young team to face an experienced squad like the Cavaliers, who know exactly what they want to do on both ends, won’t be easy. And to have that game be away from Tallahassee, in their first true road game of the year, no less? Yeah, um, let’s just stick with “won’t be easy.”