Virginia Cavaliers vs. North Carolina Central Eagles Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 5th 2023


Six different players have led Virginia in scoring in its seven wins this season. The Cavaliers (7-1) will call on that depth again Tuesday night when an up-and-down North Carolina Central squad comes to Charlottesville, Va. The Eagles (4-5) have alternated wins and losses through nine games. Isaac McKneely took his turn atop the Virginia scoring column in Saturday’s 84-62 home win against Syracuse. He posted 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including 6-for-8 from 3-point distance, and the Cavaliers shot 54.5 percent to win their Atlantic Coast Conference opener. “Once you see that first one go down, it’s like you get a really good feeling,” McKneely said after the victory against the Orange. “I just kept letting them fly and they were falling. So credit to my teammates for finding me when I was open, too.” Reece Beekman, Leon Bond III, Blake Buchanan, Ryan Dunn and Andrew Rohde have also been the leading scorer for Virginia this season. Beekman (12.0 points per game) and McKneely (11.6) are averaging double figures for a lineup that ranks second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 54.0 points per game. McKneely is shooting 54.3 percent (19 of 35) from behind the arc this season after hitting 39.2 percent of his triples as a freshman last season. “I feel like I’m just shooting it with more confidence this year and hunting my shot more, taking the parking brake off,” he said. North Carolina Central is coming off an 85-82 loss at home Saturday to South Carolina Upstate. The Eagles also have fallen to then-No. 1 Kansas and Georgia on the road this season. “We know we’ve got to give value, effort and … be really limited in our mistakes,” coach LeVelle Moton said earlier this season. “That’s the thing when you’re playing high majors — and I love playing those games. Honestly, I’m up for the challenge. You got to be really limited because the margin for error is slim to none.” Three players are scoring in double figures, led by Po’Boigh King with 15.6 points per game. Fellow guards Ja’Darius Harris and Fred Cleveland Jr. add 13.9 and 13.6, respectively. Virginia won the first meeting between the programs, 73-61 in the 2022-23 season opener, also in Charlottesville. –Field Level Media

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