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AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER SERVING THE GW COMMUNITY SINCE 1904

The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Preview: Men’s basketball vs. No. 9 Virginia

Junior Joe McDonald drives to the net in GWs win over Rutgers earlier this season. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer
Junior Joe McDonald drives to the net in GW’s win over Rutgers earlier this season. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer
Junior Joe McDonald drives to the net in GW's win over Rutgers on Sunday. The Colonials will take on No. 9 Virginia on Friday and would generate serious top-25 buzz if they took down the Cavaliers. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer
Junior Joe McDonald drives to the net in GW’s win over Rutgers on Sunday. The Colonials will take on No. 9 Virginia on Friday and would generate serious top-25 buzz if they took down the Cavaliers. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

What: Men’s basketball vs. No. 9 Virginia

Where: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Va., ESPN3/WatchESPN

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Just two games into the regular season, the Colonials will get perhaps their toughest test of the entire year, facing No. 9 Virginia on the road in the opening game of a home-and-home agreement announced last April.

The Cavaliers have started the regular season 3-0, coming off a season in which they won both the ACC regular season and championship en route to a Sweet 16 appearance. The Colonials have likewise yet to suffer their first loss of the season, entering the game with a 2-0 record.

For both teams, the game will be the first true challenge, though Virginia is still the clear favorite. A win for GW would likely generate serious top-25 buzz for the team and, either way, questions will be answered about both squads Friday.

The Colonial Army is taking advantage of the area rivalry and is bussing GW fans to the game. Several players will also see familiar faces on the court: Junior swingman Justin Anderson played with Kevin Larsen at Montrose Christian School, and senior forward Darion Atkins was a teammate of Joe McDonald’s at the Landon School.

The case for Virginia:
Virginia is off to its best start in six years under head coach Tony Bennett and have posted an average margin of victory of 25.3 points in three games.

The weak spot for Virginia so far has been in guarding players from long range. In each of the team’s three wins, one opposing player got hot from downtown. But against GW, which head coach Mike Lonergan has said is not a strong three-point-shooting team, Virginia may catch a long-range break – unless Nick Griffin gets a streak going at exactly the right time.

Depth is also in the home team’s favor. Despite a packed schedule at the start of the season, the Cavaliers should be well rested as no player in the team’s deep lineup saw more than 25 minutes of playing time on Tuesday in a win against South Carolina State.

Virginia has the ability to choose between junior center Mike Tobey and Atkins to start alongside Anderson, redshirt junior forward Anthony Gill, redshirt junior guard Malcom Brogdon and sophomore point guard London Perrantes, depending on matchups.

The Colonials, meanwhile, will have to shorten their bench to keep pace with a top opponent. Yuta Watanabe and Nick Griffin look like reliable options to soak up some minutes early, and Darian Bryant looks not too far off, but the GW bench may run just eight deep Friday.

The case for GW:
While the Colonials will have had nearly a week of rest since playing Rutgers last Sunday, the Cavs will have had just three days and will be suiting up for the fourth time in eight days.

After shedding 15 pounds during the offseason, a trimmer Anderson has been a leading scorer in each of the Cavaliers’ first three games. The junior swingman will test Patricio Garino, but GW should feel confident in Garino’s stellar defense matching up against Anderson who, like Garino, is a threat above the rim.

McDonald and Perrantes also match up well at the one. Perrantes is skilled but has not been the scorer McDonald has been, averaging 5.5 points per game last season and averaging five points and 1.5 rebounds in two games this year. McDonald is averaging 11.5 points per game thus far.

GW’s ability to rebound and augment rebounding numbers from the guard slots could also help prevent Virginia’s physical game inside from getting the Cavaliers on a roll. The Colonials are averaging 47 rebounds per game through two games, while Virginia is averaging 41.7.

The Colonials enter the game with zero room for error, but if the shots fall against Virginia’s strong defense, keeping up with the Cavs would be something to remember come March.

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