Virginia opens the 2022-2023 college basketball season against NC Central on Monday night at John Paul Jones Arena. In their 14th season under Tony Bennett, the Cavaliers will be looking to bounce back after an up-and-down year that saw them miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013. UVA’s efforts to get back on track must start on opening night , as the Hoos will surely remember the rude awakening they received in last year’s season-opener, a shocking upset loss to Navy that propelled Virginia out of the top 25 for the remainder of the season. With an experienced NC Central squad coming to JPJ, the Cavaliers would be wise not to overlook their first opponent.
Who: North Carolina Central Eagles (0-0) at Virginia Cavaliers (0-0)
When: Monday, November 7th at 9pm
Where: John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia
How to watch: ACC Regional Sports Networks | Click here for affiliates
How to stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
All-time series: This is the first-ever meeting between NC Central and Virginia
Spread: Virginia -24.5
Opponent Breakdown: North Carolina Central
2021: 16-15 overall, 8-5 MEAC
Like Tony Bennett, LeVelle Moton is also beginning his 14th season at the helm of the NC Central men’s basketball program, where he enjoyed a decorated career as a player as well. Now, Moton is considered both one of the best players and one of the best coaches in program history. He has a 228-172 overall record over 13 seasons and has coached the Eagles to three Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) regular season titles, four MEAC tournament titles, and four NCAA Tournament appearances, with the most recent trip coming in the 2018 -2019 season. NC Central has struggled to regain momentum since the COVID-19 hit, but there is some evidence to suggest the Eagles are about to turn a corner.
NC Central returns four of its top six scorers from a season ago led by junior guard Justin Wright, who paced the Eagles with 13.7 points per game last year. The 6’2″ guard shot 40.7% from three and 49.6% from the floor and was named First-Team All-MEAC.
6’8″ redshirt senior forward Kris Monroe started all but one game for the Eagles last season, averaging 10.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. NC Central also returns 6’2″ senior Eric Boone, who averaged just below double figures in scoring and was the team’s leading assist man at 4.7 assists per game.
Moton also secured some valuable additions through the transfer portal, including one UVA will be familiar with. 6’8″ forward Dan Oladapo transferred to NC Central after spending one season at Pittsburgh, where he appeared in 15 games, averaging 3.3 points per game. He played in both of Pitt’s games against UVA, scoring six points in the first contest and four points in the second. Oladapo was a combined 5/5 from the field in the two games against the Cavaliers.
NC Central also added 7’0″, 235-pound center Brendan Medley-Bacon, who comes in having played 105 games in his career, including two seasons at Coppin State, one at VCU, and then the 2021-2022 season at McNeese State , where he averaged 9.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. Medley-Bacon will present an early test for Kadin Shedrick, who put on some challenging muscle this offseason that should serve him well in this matchup.
The Eagles are an experienced bunch and they certainly have some talented pieces. The Cavaliers shouldn’t expect to be able to sleep-walk to a season-opening win in this one. With that said, I expect Virginia should be able to execute well enough to pull away in the second half for a comfortable win.
Prediction: NC Central 55, Virginia 75
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- This game marks the beginning of the 117th season of the Virginia men’s basketball program, but this is the first time UVA is playing NC Central
- The Cavaliers are 11-2 in season-openers against Tony Bennett, but had their eight-game winning streak in season-openers snapped with last-season’s 66-58 loss to Navy
- Virginia is 94-23 all-time in season-openers, including 22-2 over the last 24 openers
- UVA holds an 87-10 record in home non-conference games in the Tony Bennett era
- Virginia is ranked No. 18 in the preseason AP Top 25, marking the fifth-consecutive season that the Cavaliers are ranked to start the season
Virginia Men’s Basketball 2022-2023 Season Preview Content
Player-by-Player Roster Preview (click each player’s name to read the preview for that player)
Armaan Franklin | Kihei Clark | Isaac Traudt | Ben Vander Plas | Taine Murray | Francisco Caffaro | Ryan Dunn | Isaac McKneely | Kadin Shedrick | Jayden Gardner | Leon Bond III | Reece Beekman
UVA Media Day
WATCH: Tony Bennett Previews the Virginia Basketball Season at Media Day
WATCH: UVA Basketball Players Talk the Upcoming Season at Media Day
Preseason Rankings, Polls, and Watch Lists
Virginia Basketball Ranked No. 18 in AP Preseason Top 25
Virginia Picked to Finish 3rd in ACC Preseason Poll, Gardner Second-Team All-ACC
Virginia Basketball ranked 5th in Preseason Kenpom Ratings
Jayden Gardner Placed on Karl Malone Award Watch List
Kihei Clark Named to Bob Cousy Award Preseason Watch List
See more Virginia men’s basketball news and content: Virginia Men’s Basketball on Sports Illustrated
See more Virginia sports news and content: Virginia Cavaliers on Sports Illustrated
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