Virginia Has Climbed the ACC Mountain

28 Feb

Back in early September I wrote about a dark horse team that people shouldn’t sleep on in the ACC.  With a little over a week left in the regular season the Virginia Cavaliers are indeed in the top spot of the conference at 15-1 in position to win their first conference title since 1980.  One big roadblock remains, a home tilt with the team just a half game behind them, Syracuse tomorrow night.

While it may be true the unbalanced schedule in the ACC may have helped the Cavaliers get to where they are.  They have played Duke (road loss), Pittsburgh (home win), North Carolina (home win) and Syracuse tomorrow just once but have swept Florida State and every other conference opponent the scheduling computer spit out at them.

The Cavs non-conference losses aren’t bad, three-point losses to then #14 VCU and Green Bay which is looking better and better thanks to the Phoenix’s stellar season in the Horizon League.  They do have losses at Wisconsin (where neither team reached 50 points) and a blowout loss at Tennessee but the win over SMU is a good one because of the Mustangs’ solid year in the American.

Offensively Virginia will not blow your doors off, averaging just under 66 points per game with guards Joe Harris (11.5) and Malcolm Brogdon (12.4) the only players in double figures.  Those kind of numbers work out ok when you are 9th in the nation in field goal percentage defense at 38.6% and are the country’s top defensive team allowing just 55.3 points per game.  When you play defense like that you will undoubtedly be in a lot of games, as evidenced by three of their five losses being by a combined 10 points.

With a win on Saturday the #1 seed in the ACC tournament will not be Duke, North Carolina or Syracuse.  It will be the team I told you to keep an eye on back in September, the Virginia Cavaliers.

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