UNC Women's Basketball Welcomes Virginia to Chapel Hill

The UNC Women's Basketball program returns home after a two-game road stretch in conference play as they welcome the Virginia Cavaliers to Carmichael Arena.

North Carolina v Notre Dame
North Carolina v Notre Dame / Michael Hickey/GettyImages

The UNC Women's Basketball program entered this week on a high note, reeling off five consecutive victories, including back-to-back top-25 wins over No. 25 Syracuse and No. 16 Notre Dame. After the road contest with the Irish, the Tar Heels got the reward of traveling on the road again for another top-25 matchup at Florida State.

The Tar Heels struggled on Thursday night, trailing by as many as 21 points in Tallahassee, but never going away easily. They cut the deficit down to as little as three points in the second half. After a tough road loss, North Carolina gets to return home against rival Virginia.

ACC Network. UNC WBB vs UVA. 446. Sunday, Jan 14. 11-5. 441. . 8-7. 4:00 PM

The Virginia Cavaliers will enter Carmichael Arena on Saturday with an 8-7 overall record and an 0-4 record in ACC play, losing their last four matchups. Two of those losses have come against NC State, which is ranked in the top ten nationally and 3-1 in ACC play.

While the Cavaliers are in a losing drought, they have played some of the top teams in the country close, sharing a non-conference common opponent with the Tar Heels as well. Virginia faced Oklahoma earlier in the season, losing 82-67. They also played LSU, without Angel Reese available, and lost 76-73.

This will be the first of two meetings over the next 14 days between the UNC Women's Basketball team and the Virginia Cavaliers as the Tar Heels will return the trip to Charlottesville on January 28th.

Key to Victory for North Carolina

The defense that Courtney Banghart has built in Chapel Hill is something special. The Tar Heels have shown the ability to dominate offenses that have plenty of firepower, most recently Notre Dame. The Tar Heels held the Irish to 30 points below their average for a game and 31.1% shooting from the field.

Virginia isn't near the offensive team that Notre Dame is, averaging just 73.7 points per game and shooting 37.9% from the field (26.4% from beyond the arc). The Tar Heels have the opportunity to enforce their will on the defensive end and make scoring very hard for a Cavaliers team that already isn't that efficient offensively.

Taking advantage of a team's weakness and holding Virginia to a poor outing on the offensive end of the floor will be a huge key in North Carolina getting back in the win column on Sunday afternoon in Chapel Hill.

Something to Watch For

In the loss to Florida State, The Seminoles shot just 27% from beyond the arc. However, while that is a low percentage and doesn't seem like a big deal, they attempted 37 three-point attempts, meaning they made 10 of those, and 30 of Florida State's 70 points came from beyond the arc.

Virginia only shoots 26.4% from beyond the arc on 23.4 attempts per game, but if they are willing to take the Seminole's approach of shooting every chance they get with the hopes that, eventually, shots will fall, it could cause some problems in the scoring department. The Cavaliers also average 46.5 rebounds per game compared to just 40.9 for the Tar Heels.

Three-point attempts lead to longer rebounds and more opportunities for the offense to get second-chance points. As with our key to the game, this one should come down to defense for the Tar Heels. However, seeing our Virginia approaches the offensive end against a very good North Carolina defense will be something to keep an eye on.

Projected Starters

No. 1 Alyssa Ustby (Sr. 6-1) 12.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 3.4 apg

No. 2 Paulina Paris (So. 5-9) 6.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.5 apg

No. 5 Maria Gakdeng (Jr. 6-3) 10.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 0.6 apg

No. 20 Lexi Donarski (Gr. 6-0) 10.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.0 apg

No. 25 Deja Kelly (Sr. 5-8) 14.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.9 apg