Miami Hurricanes Basketball: Three Things You Need to Know Before Miami Hosts Virginia

Jan 12, 2016; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Miami Hurricanes guard Angel Rodriguez (13) drives to the basket as Virginia Cavaliers guard Darius Thompson (51) and Cavaliers forward Evan Nolte (11) defend in the first half at John Paul Jones Arena. The Cavaliers won 66-58. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 12, 2016; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Miami Hurricanes guard Angel Rodriguez (13) drives to the basket as Virginia Cavaliers guard Darius Thompson (51) and Cavaliers forward Evan Nolte (11) defend in the first half at John Paul Jones Arena. The Cavaliers won 66-58. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Well as we all know, Saturday in Chapel Hill couldn’t have gone much worse for the Miami Hurricanes, but in the ACC, there’s no time to linger on any result, win or lose.

Just 52 hours after the ending of Miami-North Carolina, the Canes will take part in yet another massive ACC clash Monday night as they’ll host the Virginia Cavaliers. For all the panic caused by their defeat to the Tar Heels, Jim Larranaga’s squad is certainly still in the thick of the ACC Regular Season title race and can pull back all the momentum they lost in Chapel Hill with a win against Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers.

With tip-off just a day away, we look at three things you need to know before yet another massive game for the Miami Hurricanes.

Coming off of the UNC loss, expect Miami to look like rabid dogs against Virginia.

When North Carolina took the floor Saturday in Chapel Hill, they took on a mentality that they weren’t going to be denied a victory after their tough loss to Duke. When Miami takes the floor tomorrow night against Virginia, they need that exact same hunger for victory.

There’s no doubting that the North Carolina loss was a humiliating one, but for a Miami team that has so much left to play for this season, they can’t let one game define their entire year. Considering that a win against Virginia will bring them right back or even above where they were heading into the weekend, the team has to know how vital this game is.

Looking at a 25-point defeat to the Tar Heels isn’t a good loss when you evaluate it from Miami’s perspective, but when the committee evaluates the Canes on Selection Sunday, losing to North Carolina won’t be considered a bad defeat. The loss will certainly hurt any chances of them trying to sneak up and grab a No. 1 seed come March, but a No. 2 seed is certainly not out of the question, especially if the Canes can beat the Cavaliers.

Now, the Hurricanes task could become a bit more difficult depending on the status of Ja’Quan Newton who was diagnosed with a bone bruise to the left shin after the loss at North Carolina. No timetable has been given for his return at the time of writing as the team awaits a full evaluation of the sophomore point guard, but there is a chance he could suit up for Virginia. If he were to return, it would certainly be a huge boost for a Miami team that needs all hands on-deck on Monday night.

The Hurricanes will need to get inspired performances from their leaders like Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan and Davon Reed who were all able to get some rest at the end of the North Carolina game. Those three scored 41 of Miami’s 58 points in the team’s last meeting with Virginia, but it still wasn’t enough.

Those three players will set the tone for what should be Miami’s most energetic and intense performance of the season. Against a tough team like Virginia, they may not come away with the victory, but with the leaders and coaches that this team has, you know they’ll be coming out fired up on Monday night.

Miami’s guards have to find a way to stop Malcom Brogdon and London Perrantes for all 40 minutes.

In that 66-58 loss to Virginia in Charlottesville back in early January, the Hurricanes did a phenomenal job in the first half on the Cavaliers back court duo of Malcom Brogdon and London Perranates. In the second half though, it was a completely different story.

After holding Brogdon to just six first half points and holding Perrantes scoreless, the duo scored 14 and 13 second half points respectively to close out the Canes for a win. For Angel Rodriguez and either Davon Reed or Sheldon McClellan, making sure they limit Perrantes and Brogdon for the entire game will go a long way towards Miami grabbing a victory.

Completely shutting down Brogdon is difficult for any team as the senior has averaged 17.8 points a game this season, but against Perrantes who averages just 11.3 points a game, Miami has to find a way to limit him. A season ago, the 6’2” junior scored a career-high 26 points and has been an achilles heel for Coach Larranaga. Angel Rodriguez will get the assignment Monday night and it’ll be crucial that he doesn’t allow Perrantes to go-off once again vs. the Canes.

For the second time in three days, the Hurricanes will have to deal with some talented big men.

Going into the North Carolina game, Miami knew they had to contain the Tar Heel big men in the paint and on the glass if they wanted any shot at victory. As evidenced by North Carolina’s 50 points in the paint, 46 total offensive rebounds and 19 offensive rebounds, the Hurricanes didn’t quite get the job done.

On Monday night, the Canes will have another tough battle against Virginia’s talented bigs, Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey. In the first matchup between the two teams, Gill and Tobey combined for 27 points and 15 rebounds as they dominated Kamari Murphy and Tonye Jekiri on the inside. Just like the way Rodriguez and McClellan have to win the duel against Perrantes and Brogdon, Murphy and Jekiri need to win the battle inside for Miami to have a chance.

Especially early on, North Carolina had way too many second chance opportunities and often converted them with putback dunks or layups. Against a Virginia team that sometimes struggles to string together quality offensive possessions, Miami can’t let them get easy second chance opportunities around the rim.

This is going to be an extremely difficult game against a Virginia team that loves to grind games out, but if the Hurricanes can find a way to get past the Cavaliers, that result Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill will just be an afterthought.