NCAA tournament team previews: Virginia Cavaliers
As part of its preview of the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team’s national rank. For more teams, click here.
Record: 28-6, 16-2 in ACC
Adjusted offense / Adjusted defense: 114.1 (22nd) / 89.5 (3rd)
Seed: No. 1 in East
Impact player: Malcolm Brogdon, sophomore guard: 12.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.6 apg, .871 FT
The Case For:
The Cavaliers pulled off an impressive double feat by winning both the ACC regular season and tournament championships, which was especially noteworthy considering they didn't even make the NCAA tournament last year. But this year Virginia added three players who didn't play college basketball in 2012-13: sophomore guard Malcolm Brogdon, who sat out the season after having foot surgery; sophomore forward Anthony Gill, who transferred form South Carolina; and freshman point guard London Perrantes. Brogdon leads a balanced scoring attack with 12.6 points per game, Gill provides athleticism and energy off the bench (as well as eight points and nearly four rebounds per game) and Perrantes has a sparkling 3.8/1.1 A/TO ratio.
Virginia's hallmark, however, is defense. The Pack-line 'D' preached by head coach Tony Bennett limits opponents to 38.5 percent shooting, ninth-best in the country. That stinginess, combined with a slow pace that ranks 345th among D-I teams, has helped the Cavs lead the nation in scoring defense at just 55.3 points per game.
The Case Against:
Virginia has not won an NCAA tournament game since 2007 and hasn't made it out of the first weekend since 1995. Its strong ACC season masked a puzzling non-conference slate in which it lost at home to VCU and Wisconsin (scoring only 38 points) and on the road at Green Bay (which landed in the NIT) and, by 35 points to Tennessee. In other words, they didn't beat a single NCAA tournament team in non-conference play. They weren't tested that often in the ACC either, only facing the league's five other NCAA clubs once each during the regular season, though they did go 4-1 in those games.
The defense should show up every game, but if Brogdon is held in check offensively, Joe Harris is the only other scorer in double figures -- and his numbers are down noticeably from a year ago. Virginia's preferred pace will allow less-talented teams to hang around and its 66.3 percent free throw shooting (288th in the nation) could cost the Cavaliers.
SI prediction: Beat Coastal Carolina in second round, beat Memphis in third round, lose to Michigan State in Sweet 16 View complete bracket predictions from SI.com's panel of experts