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Friday, March 22, 2013
W2W4: St. John's at Virginia

By Kieran Darcy

Here are three things to watch for when St. John's (17-15, 8-10 Big East) plays Virginia (22-11, 11-7 ACC) on Sunday at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Tipoff is at 11 a.m., and you can watch the game on ESPN.

RISE AND SHINE! This can serve as your appetizer, since it tips off more than an hour before any of Sunday's eight NCAA tournament games.

Both of these teams had hoped to be in the Big Dance this season. Now they're trying to advance to the third round of the NIT.

Virginia has home-court advantage, courtesy of its No. 1 seed, and is 19-1 at home this season. (St. John's is the No. 5 seed in this bracket.) The Cavaliers drew 4,790 fans to their opening-round win over No. 8 seed Norfolk State, in a building that seats 14,593. There might be even fewer people in the building this time, considering the early start.

SHOOT IT, SIR'DOM! Sir'Dominic Pointer was the hero of St. John's opening-round win, 63-61 at No. 4 seed St. Joseph's. The sophomore swingman equaled his career high with 15 points, to go along with seven assists, five rebounds and three blocked shots. Most importantly, he hit the game-winning shot -- a fallaway jumper at the buzzer.

Pointer is the fourth-leading scorer on the team, averaging seven points per game. It's time for him to be more aggressive -- especially with leading scorer D'Angelo Harrison suspended. Pointer is shooting 52 percent from the field on the season -- but he takes only 4.7 shots per game! By comparison, Phil Greene has taken more than twice as many shots as Pointer, and is shooting just 36.8 percent.

Even against St. Joe's, Pointer only took seven shots from the field, making six of them.

Pointer has shown an improved touch from the perimeter this season, and he can penetrate, too. He's capable of providing more offense, to a team that desperately needs it.

THE CAVALIERS: Virginia finished tied for fourth in the ACC with NC State -- but unlike the Wolfpack, the Cavaliers did not make the field of 68. They had some impressive wins, including at Wisconsin in November, and versus Duke in late February. But they also had some really ugly losses, and in the end were on the wrong side of the bubble.

Two players average in double figures -- 6-foot-6 junior guard Joe Harris (16.7 ppg) and 6-foot-8 junior forward Akil Mitchell (13.3 ppg). Harris shoots 43.1 percent from beyond the arc, and Mitchell also averages nine rebounds per game.

Virginia's calling card is its defense. The Cavaliers, under coach Tony Bennett, are ranked fourth in Division I in scoring defense (55.2 ppg) and 17th in defensive field-goal percentage (38.6).