Lower than two weeks in the past, Virginia was atop the ACC standings, rising within the AP ballot each week and a sneaky candidate to finish up as a 1-seed on Choice Sunday.
After three straight losses — the most recent coming at residence on Wednesday to NC State by a 68-61 final score — the Cavaliers are seeing their NCAA match seeding fade shortly, and questions are beginning to be requested about how deep a run Virginia — a preseason top-five workforce — can actually make come March.
The primary two losses within the three-game dropping streak have been comprehensible: on the street at Florida State, after which on the street within the last minute towards a scorching Duke workforce. However Wednesday’s loss to NC State was totally different. First, it was Virginia’s first residence lack of the season and its first since January of final season. NC State was 10-9 general and 6-8 within the ACC getting into the sport, with only one win over a workforce ranked inside the highest 80 of the NET.
So what is going on on with Tony Bennett’s workforce? Essentially the most noticeable challenge is on the defensive finish of the ground, the realm the place Virginia yearly ranks among the many nation’s elite. Florida State, Duke and NC State all scored not less than 1.08 factors per possession towards the Cavaliers, a quantity they allowed simply 4 occasions all of final season. Whereas they’re nonetheless the most effective defensive workforce within the ACC, they’re permitting 0.99 factors per possession in convention play — their highest quantity for the reason that 2010-11 season.
Offensively, two issues are standing out. First, Virginia has struggled to get baskets late in video games or late within the shot clock when performs break down. The Cavaliers do not have gamers who can constantly beat their defender off the dribble and create scoring alternatives, like they’ve had up to now with Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter and Malcolm Brogdon. Kihei Clark has hit clutch photographs in his profession, however he isn’t anticipated to hold an offense. The second challenge is perimeter taking pictures. Virginia will get a big share of its factors from behind the arc, however Florida State and Duke each made extra 3s than the Cavaliers after which they shot 7-for-25 from the perimeter towards NC State.
Virginia must proper the ship shortly, with simply two video games remaining earlier than the ACC match, as a result of the Cavaliers’ NCAA match profile is not overly spectacular while you start to peel again the layers. Metrics actually like Virginia, together with the NET, KenPom, and ESPN’s Energy of File and BPI. So long as these numbers are good, the Cavaliers will not fall too far — however that is their solely saving grace proper now. Virginia is 3-4 towards Quadrant 1 opponents, with two Quadrant 3 losses (though NC State will probably rise into Quadrant 2 territory after beating the Cavaliers).
It is a résumé utterly bereft of something resembling a marquee win; the Cavaliers’ greatest victories this season have come over Clemson, Georgia Tech twice and North Carolina. None of these three groups is above a 7-seed in Joe Lunardi’s newest Bracketology and Georgia Tech is not even within the projected discipline. Their high quality wins simply do not stack up favorably when in comparison with the likes of Texas, Kansas, USC, Creighton and groups in that space of the bracket. Contemplating Virginia was solidly a 2-seed simply a few weeks in the past, dropping to a 5- or 6-seed three video games later would have been onerous to fathom.
Virginia continues to be going to be a workforce no one needs to face within the NCAA match — the Cavaliers are nonetheless the reigning nationwide champions, in any case — however as a result of they lack playmakers on the offensive finish and their protection is not almost as stingy because it has been in recent times, their margin for error appears way more skinny.