Virginia is the ACC’s Best Basketball Team

JohnPaulJonesArena2015

March Madness is rapidly approaching and teams are out there looking for the big wins to boost their tournament résumé. The Cavaliers of Virginia won their first 19 games of the year before losing to Duke last weekend, but that doesn’t take away from their impressive season thus far. When the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) tournament and March Madness rolls around, the Cavaliers are going to be a serious contender.

Even though they play in the loaded ACC, it’s hard to deny that they are the conference favorite at the moment. Their only loss on the season is to Duke, who is 18-3 on the season and ranked in the top five of all of college basketball.  As of January 29th, Joe Lunardi tabbed Virginia as a #1 seed in his latest bracketology report. Virginia should be able to grasp a one seed for March Madness, as long as they continue this high level of play.

Virginia is arguably the best defensive team in college basketball. They lead the nation in scoring defense (50.1 ppg) and second in field-goal percentage defense (35.0).  While they don’t steal the ball very often, they have an excellent grasp on the concept of team defense and how to pressure the opponent. Their scoring margin is 17.9 points, good enough for fifth in the nation. They limit the opposing team’s second chance points, as evidenced by their 10.3 rebounding margin per game. That number ranks them third in all of college basketball, and is a major reason why they are winning at the pace they have been. Defense wins championships, and that is what Virginia is hoping for this year.

While their defense certainly attracts the majority of the attention, what can’t go unnoticed is their offensive efficiency. Tough critics will chuckle at their 68 points per game statistic, good enough for 160th in the nation and 10th in the conference. However, analyzing the numbers reveals something deeper than 68 points per game. Their assist to turnover ratio is 1.53, which places them seventh in the nation. When it comes to turning the ball over, it is something that this team just doesn’t do. They only average nine turnovers per game, third fewest in the nation and lowest in the ACC. Their efficiency in not turning the ball over doesn’t put their defense in inopportune situations.

Even though this team doesn’t have a true star player, that is exactly what makes them so dangerous. Opponents can’t focus on just one player beating them, because Virginia has a few players that can hurt you. The Cavaliers rely mostly on double-digit scorers Justin Anderson (13.8 ppg), Malcolm Brogdon (13.5 ppg), and Anthony Gill (10.9), but also receive healthy contributions from Mike Tobey (7.6 ppg) and Darion Atkins (7.2 ppg). London Perrantes (5.2ppg, 4.5 apg), another key player for the Cavaliers, is inside the top fifteen of the nation for his assist to turnover ratio.

Here are some key upcoming games for Virginia where wins will help their March Madness résumé, as well as some history on those previous contests.

Date Opponent Median Ticket Price Lifetime Series Date of Last Matchup Result of Last Matchup
2/16/2015 Pittsburgh $22 UVA 9-3 3/15/2014 UVA 51-48
2/28/2015 Virginia Tech $52 UVA 87-53 1/25/2015 UVA 50-47

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