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ACC Basketball Introductions: How Syracuse Matches Up With Virginia

Moving right along, we're previewing the University of Virginia basketball team.


There's a lot going on with the University of Virginia Cavaliers. First, their colors are orange and blue, but it's the wrong orange. (It's also the wrong blue, but we can't officially say that). Between them and Clemson, I feel like there will be a sort of out-orangeing contest we'll have to deal with at some point. We need to win that.

Then they've got this thing where they're called "the Wahoos," or just "the Hoos." I didn't know why, so I looked it up, as I've been known to do. Apparently, it's from some really old baseball game where they were mocked as "a bunch of wahoos." Way to turn that around.

There's also the whole "wa-hoo-wa" cheer they do. You can find an example of it here, sung to the tune of our beloved "Hey" song. I don't know, guys. Wa-hoo-wa? More like bla-bla-bla.

If we get lip for this, then the ACC has two humorless teams in the wrong color orange, and I don't even know what to do with that.

For thoughts on the rest of the conference, check out previews of Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida StateGeorgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh.

2012-2013 Record: 23-12 (11-7)

Conference Ranking: T-4th

Historical Notes: Nothing too notable, actually. The Orange leads the series 3-1. I guess the last two games (‘07 and '08) were nail-biters that ‘Cuse won, but neither of them really sticks out to me. I can pretty much guarantee that won't happen this year, though.

What They're Known For: Defense. Head coach Tony Bennett uses a pack-line system that's been utterly crushing. The Hoos held opponents to 55.6 points last year and it's kind of their thing. Well, welcome to the club, boys. This should be interesting.

Season Summary: The Cavaliers were good at home and not-so-good away. They split their regular season series with the likes of UNC, Boston College, Wake Forest, and Clemson, among others. As for the postseason, UVA is now 0-4 in its last four conference tournament games after falling to NC State in last year's ACC tourney, and they ended their season with a loss to Iowa in the NIT quarterfinals.

Key Players:

Joe Harris (16.3 PPG/4.0 RPG/2.2 APG). Kid's really good. The 6-6 guard was named to the 2012-2013 All-ACC First Team. I'm not listing everything, so just click for accolades, 42.5% from 3 last year, #HeHasHisOwnHashtag, and the super-duper-hype-machine.

Akil Mitchell (13.1 PPG/8.9 RPG/1.2 SPG). Mitchell (6-8, forward) landed on the All-ACC Third Team after becoming a consistent and dominant inside presence for the Cavaliers. He's also a fierce competitor. After someone asked what he thought about UVA being Maryland's last regular season conference opponent this year, he deadpanned with a gem: "Sad to send them out on a loss, I guess." Boom.

Justin Anderson (7.6 PPG/3.3 RPG/2.3 APG/1.2 BPG). He bought in. The 6-6 guard put up solid numbers as a freshman, but his intangibles are what make him a favorite Wahoo. Anderson has energy, emotion, and also has no problem throwing a little shade. (h/t TNIAAM podcasters) Just ask Maryland. With the continued support of Harris and Mitchell, he'll keep getting better.

Personnel Changes: UVA loses a bunch of guards. Jontel Evans (4.2 PPG/4.9 APG) graduated, and Paul Jesperson (4.7 PPG/2.2 RPG) and Taylor Barnette (2.6 PPG) transferred out. As for the incoming players, two guys who red-shirted will be on the court: Malcolm Brogdon (6-5, guard) and Anthony Gill (6-8, forward). Brogdon was recovering from a broken foot, and Gill sat per NCAA rules after transferring from South Carolina. The frosh are Devon Hall (6-5, guard) and London Perrantes (6-2, guard).

2013-2014 Potential: Since the Hoos return a lot of talent, any improvement over last year will depend on how good the newbies and redshirt players are. Before you get all "thank you, Captain Obvious," there's more to it than that. Let me explain.

The cat's out of the bag with Harris and Mitchell, so everyone's keying in on them. It will be up to the other guys to make significant contributions on a regular basis while the Cavaliers adjust and figure out how to get the seniors involved. Brogdon was productive before redshirting, so a lot of this will fall on his shoulders, but the development of Anderson and the ability of the freshmen to produce right away will matter.

Orange Match-Up: Both SU and UVA pride themselves on defense. For their systems to work, players race down the court after offensive possessions to set up before the other team gets there. Well, if you know you're playing against a team that does this, what do you do? Once you get the ball on offense, you race back to beat the defense. That's a lot of racing from both teams. Don't be surprised if the pace of this game gets a tad frenetic.

That being said, I think whoever gets more points in transition wins the game. Rebounds, among other things, lead to transition points, and Syracuse struggles with this as a zone team. The new rules have also caused the Orange to be more tentative than I'd like, and that's bad news bears. To that, I say this: cut it out, ‘Cuse, and quit being hesitant. I get that you can't lose what you don't put in the middle, but you can't win much, either.