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Virginia men’s basketball notebook: Cavaliers prepare for rematch with Notre Dame

Virginia men’s basketball notebook: Cavaliers prepare for rematch with Notre Dame

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After moving to 3-0 in the ACC over the weekend with a win at Boston College, the Virginia men’s basketball team returns home for a midweek game against Notre Dame.

The game, currently scheduled for Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. on the ACC Network after two time changes in recent days, pits two programs that played against each other just a couple weeks ago. In the first meeting, Virginia (7-2, 3-0 ACC) beat Notre Dame 66-57 in part due to a 19-point performance from Kihei Clark.

Clark tallied five assists and no turnovers in the victory. He’s playing well and figures to be an important factor in UVa’s plan of attack this time around.

“Kihei was good in that game,” head coach Tony Bennett said Monday. “He really put a lot of pressure on them. More driving, I don’t think it was as much scoring in the post. He might have had one or two of those, but anytime you can put pressure on the paint, whether it’s to draw and kick or do things, you want that and you try to have a good balance.”

Notre Dame, which is just 3-7 on the season and 0-4 in ACC games, desperately wants to pick up its first victory since Dec. 23. The Fighting Irish will need to contain Clark and a UVa team gaining confidence to earn the win.

Bennett was unclear of the potential availability of Kadin Shedrick, Kody Stattmann, Casey Morsell and Austin Katstra heading into Wednesday’s game. It’s unclear if any of those players will be available Wednesday as they deal with various issues that kept them off the floor against Boston College. Bennett didn’t provide an update on the assistant coaches who missed the game against Boston College due to COVID-19 protocols either.

UVa’s head coach expects to know more about the status of absent coaches and players ahead of Wednesday’s game.

For UVa, a win over Notre Dame sets up a massive ACC showdown on Saturday with an unexpectedly fantastic Clemson squad.

Clemson hopeful to host UVa

Clemson started the basketball season as well as any ACC team. The Tigers sit at 9-1 this season, boasting a 3-1 start in conference play. They’ve racked up wins over Florida State, N.C. State, Maryland and Purdue, among others.

Until late last week, it was an ideal start to the 2020-21 college basketball season.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 issues forced Clemson to temporarily halt team activity. The Tigers announced the pause on Jan. 8, and two games were postponed as a result. The team’s next scheduled game is a Sunday evening home matchup with UVa.

Clemson head coach Brad Brownell is hopeful the game against Virginia can still take place as scheduled. Brownell shared Monday that he’s looking toward Tuesday or Wednesday for a return to practice, assuming COVID-19 test results allow for the return to the court.

“We’re hopeful that all of our testing comes back good and so we can get back out and then it’ll be just normal practices, whether it’s Tuesday, Wednesday,” Brownell said.

A mid-week return would allow ample time for the Tigers to prepare for Sunday’s showdown between teams near the top of the ACC standings.

Latest rankings

Virginia sat at No. 32 in the NET rankings released Monday morning. The Cavaliers are the fourth-best team in the ACC, according to the metric.

Clemson leads the conference in the NET rankings, coming in at No. 17. Louisville checks in at No. 27, while Virginia Tech earns the No. 30 ranking, just barely ahead of UVa.

Of note, UVa’s three ACC wins this season are against Notre Dame, Wake Forest and Boston College. Those three teams sit at the bottom of the ACC, according to the NET, with Wake Forest at No. 134, Boston College at 134 and Notre Dame last at 156th.

The AP poll gives UVa more love than the NET rankings. AP poll voters placed UVa at No. 18. The Cavaliers were 22nd last week, but moved up the rankings after picking up wins over Wake Forest and Boston College.

Clemson ranks 12th nationally, while Louisville sits at No. 16. UVa is third among ACC teams in the poll, but two teams sit close behind as Duke is No. 19 and Virginia Tech is No. 20.

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