Which men’s basketball player has been most deserving of All-ACC Selection?
Jake Blank, Sports Editor: Kyle Guy. The sophomore guard leads the team in both minutes played and points scored. Guy has become the face of the team and its most dynamic offensive player. Additionally, he showed maturity well beyond his age against Duke, calmly closing out the game in front of a national audience, earning him the Pillar Player of the Game.
Alec Dougherty, Sports Editor: Guy is very deserving, but I’ll go with Devon Hall. He does a little bit of everything for Virginia, averaging 12.7 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game and 3.1 assists per game, and he has developed into the team’s best perimeter defender. The senior guard has scored in double figures over the team’s last eight games — providing steady production over the team’s ACC dominance — and leads the team in three-point percentage.
Zach Zamoff, Senior Associate Editor: This is a difficult question to answer because this year’s basketball team has succeeded due to the balanced nature of its attack, but I’d also have to go with Kyle Guy. While Hall has certainly come up big offensively, it is Guy who most consistently provides the cutting edge offensively to supplement Virginia’s historically stingy defense.
Emma D’Arpino, Senior Associate Editor: I’m going to agree with Alec and say Devon Hall. In Virginia’s four games against ranked opponents, Hall has been the leading scorer in three out of the four. He had 19 points against then-No. 18 West Virginia, 16 against then-No. 12 North Carolina and 14 points against then-No. 18 Clemson. The only game against a ranked opponent in which Hall didn’t lead the team in scoring was against No. 4 Duke, and he still finished the night with 14. These performances show Hall has proved that he is capable of finding success against challenging opponents, and that he is the leader of this excellent Virginia team.
What ACC team scares you most come Tournament time?
JB: Duke. Even though the Cavaliers just beat the Blue Devils in Cameron, Marvin Bagley III’s output — 30 points and 14 rebounds on 13-18 shooting — is cause for concern over whether the Cavaliers can contain his and Wendell Carter Jr.’s size and athleticism. While I believe the Cavaliers are the better team, Duke scares me more than any other team in the ACC.
AD: Syracuse because of their zone defense and length. Virginia relied heavily on De’Andre Hunter to break the zone in the first matchup between the teams, but jump shots were also falling in big moments for Kyle Guy, which is never a guarantee in a tournament atmosphere. Additionally, Syracuse is one of the tallest average teams in the conference, which could prove a sizable mismatch in rebounding.
ZZ: Other than Virginia, of course, I’d have to go with Duke, solely based off their plethora of talent. While the ACC is laden with potential Cinderellas — especially Virginia Tech, N.C. State and Florida State with their prolific offenses — Duke has to be the most threatening team. Four of Duke’s starting five are projected to be first-round draft picks, and Marvin Bagley III is a unique player who can single-handedly will his team to win.
ED: Duke definitely still scares me. The success Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. found against the Cavaliers’ defense was impressive, and proves just how difficult these players are to contain. Plus, the more games these freshmen get under their belt, the more experience they’re adding to their already talented roster. So, come tournament time, Duke will be a force to be reckoned with.
Will the women’s basketball team win the ACC?
JB: Unfortunately, I don’t believe they will. While the team is tied for the lead in the ACC with an 8-1 start to conference play — its second-best start ever — the Cavaliers have yet to beat a ranked team this season. With matchups against No. 4 Louisville (two of them), No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 10 Florida State remaining, the odds are stacked against Virginia. They have already exceeded expectations, though.
AD: This ultimately will come down to the team’s two matchups against No. 4 Louisville. The Cavaliers snagged a stunning win over then-No. 4 Florida State last season at home, but with Louisville undefeated on the road this year, I think this matchup will be tougher. The team’s non-conference struggles will come back to bite them unless then can beat some top-tier foes.
ZZ: While the women’s basketball team’s start to conference play has been inspiring, the Cavaliers will not ultimately win the ACC. Their non-conference performance shows that the Cavaliers have consistently struggled against ranked opponents, and they have four such opponents coming up in the ACC slate of play. Unfortunately, I don’t see Virginia coming up with wins against No. 4 Louisville and No. 5 Notre Dame — games they will have to win if they want to contend.
ED: Although the Cavaliers have achieved great success in the conference so far, given the difficulty of their remaining schedule, I don’t think this is their year to win the ACC. With matchups against No.4 Louisville and No. 5 Notre Dame on the horizon, I think they’ll struggle to remain atop the ACC standings.
What’s the biggest non-basketball question on your mind right now?
JB: Will football get an influx of talent on signing day?
While the Feb. 7 date is no longer the first signing day of the offseason, Virginia still has scholarships available to add talent. Worth watching in particular is whether cornerback DJ Brown, a verbal commit, signs with the Cavaliers or is persuaded to flip by late visits to Notre Dame and Ohio State.
AD: Will Kurt Benkert get drafted — and where?
Benkert’s status as an NFL draft prospect is quite an enigma. He has the measurables at six-foot-four and 215 pounds, and great arm strength, but inconsistency with his accuracy and a shaky pocket presence will ultimately limit his draft potential. Teams may still look to his impressive performance at Miami and showing at the Senior Bowl and find some developmental value in him. I could see the Saints taking a shot with him as an eventual replacement for quarterback Drew Brees in their run-and-gun offense.
ZZ: Will the Virginia men’s lacrosse team begin a program turnaround this season?
While the team’s roster is laden with young talent on the offensive end, Lars Tiffany struggled to implement good defense last season, a problem that will continue to plague the Cavaliers this season. Tiffany will need to convince good defensive recruits to play for Virginia if they want to become ACC contenders again. However, the team made strides last year, and certainly has potential if the defense is shored up.
ED: How will the Virginia men’s tennis team follow up its three national championships in a row now that Coach Brian Boland is gone?
The Cavaliers have achieved incredible success in tennis over the past few years, with four national championships in the last five years. However, this spring, noticeably gone is longtime Coach Brian Boland. In addition to having a new head coach, Andres Pedroso, Virginia also has a very young roster that includes eight freshmen. While the lone senior, Henrik Weirsholm, has had great success in his career, and will likely continue to play at a high level in his fourth year, it will be interesting to see if this young team can perform at the level of excellence Virginia is used to.