Previewing The Virginia Cavaliers

DURHAM, NC - JANUARY 12: Coach Tony Bennett of the Virginia Cavaliers runs onto the floor to call a timeout during the final seconds of a game against the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 12, 2012 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 61-58. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Virginia @ StatSheet
2012 Stats
2012 Roster
2012 Schedule

Virginia Offense 10-11
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 48.5 199
Turnover Rate 17.7 42
Off Reb Rate 26.7 315
FTA/FGA 32.0 300
Virginia Offense 11-12
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 50.6 119
Turnover Rate 18.5 51
Off Reb Rate 32.6 168
FTA/FGA 39.9 85

NC State has had the luxury up to this point of being able to get out and run when they want to but that doesn't figure to be so easy against Virginia, the slowest team in the ACC and the sixth-slowest in the country. Tony Bennett loves him some half court offense; in his six seasons as a head coach, his teams have never ranked higher than 317th nationally in adjusted tempo. Of the five ACC games they've played this season, only one has cracked 60 possessions.

That pace helps the Cavaliers limit turnovers, for one thing. That's an area where Bennett made an immediate positive impact on Virginia's offense. It's taken him some time to build a team that can shoot a decent percentage with leftovers from the Dave Leitao era of vocal oppression, but he finally has one in 2012, thanks largely to the efforts of Mike Scott.

Starters

Jontel Evans (5-11, 188) -- Evans doesn't shoot very often, which is good because yikes. He's only an occasional three-point shooter since he apparently has no range to speak of; he's not very good inside the arc, either. His 43.9 2FG% this season is the highest of his career. His assist rate is solid, though, and he's excellent at picking pockets.

Sammy Zeglinski (6-1, 184) -- I'm not sure what it is with Virginia specifically, but it seems like there's about five guys on that team who've been in Charlottesville for like 10 years. Zeglinski is one of those old hands, though he remains an effective three-point specialist as he heads into his golden years.

Joe Harris (6-6, 211) --When you see a name like Joe Harris, you probably assume, as I once did, that this fellow is not very good at basketball. Accounting? Sure. But basketball? Get the heck on out of town. He is pretty good, though. Way to strike a blow against name bias, Joe. Last year he was deadly from outside (41.7%) and this year his two-point accuracy is way up (55.9%). He's not hitting threes at quite the same clip, but 36% ain't anything to sneeze at either.

Akil Mitchell (6-8, 234) -- HELLO I AM VIRGINIA BASKETBALL LINEUP SUPPORT UNIT NUMBER 25. MITCHELL UNIT HAS REPLACED SENE UNIT WHICH IS DOWN FOR MAINTENANCE AT CURRENT TIME. MITCHELL UNIT INSERTION PROVIDES VIRGINIA BASKETBALL WITH REQUIRED ALLOTMENT OF SPORT ACTION UNITS.

Mike Scott (6-8, 237) -- Scott's place in the general consensus for ACC player of the year will be interesting to watch, though I'm pretty sure I know how this movie ends. His scoring and rebounding averages (16.6 pts, 8.4 rebounds) are solid but don't jump off the page, and this is where Virginia's pace hurts him, because those averages really undersell what he's done this year and how valuable he is to Virginia. He rebounds well at both ends, doesn't turn the ball over much, does a good job getting to the line where he shoots 81%, and he's hit 59% of his twos. It's one of those Giant Step Forward years.

Bench

Malcolm Brogdon (6-5, 215), Darion Atkins (6-8, 222), Paul Jesperson (6-6, 197). Injuries and defections have created a bit of a problem here for Tony Bennett--K.T. Harrell and James Johnson transferred out earlier this season, and the team recently lost center Assane Sene to injury. Harrell at least would have provided some additional depth at guard, while Sene was a key part of the frontcourt. Now Bennett is left with three true freshman reserves, and Brogdon seems to be the only one he's comfortable giving 10+ minutes in a tight contest.

Brogdon and his 30.4 three-point percentage is the NC State Shit pick to click in this one.

Virginia Defense 10-11
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 50.2 227
Turnover Rate 19.8 192
Off Reb Rate 28.6 41
FTA/FGA 28.8 24
Virginia Defense 11-12
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 43.2 13
Turnover Rate 22.4 85
Off Reb Rate 22.9 1
FTA/FGA 27.8 22

This is why Virginia has improved so much overall--the offense is a little better, but the defense is a whole lot better. The Cavs are playing better interior defense, and nobody's better at limiting opponents to one-and-done possessions.

Good overall defense and defensive rebounding are two Bennett staples, so it's not surprising that he's been able to make those things happen at UVA after getting acclimated for a couple of years. The extent of Virginia's success at this end is a bit of a surprise, though.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes Virginia by one.

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