How and when to watch the game
Tip time: 7 p.m. ET
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Radio: Sirius/XM 91, Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)
Record: 13-0 (1-0)
Pomeroy ranking: No. 2
RPI: No. 3
Wins vs. Pomeroy top-100: 7
Best win: VCU (No. 13 in Pomeroy Ratings)
Worst loss: n/a
Adjusted tempo: 59.7 poss/40 minutes (ranks 348th)
Adjusted offensive efficiency: 117.8 (ranks 4th)
Adjusted defensive efficiency: 86.3 (ranks 5th)
The UVA offense
|Virginia Offense -- Four Factors||eFG% (National Rank)||TO%||OR%||FT Rate|
|2013-14||50.8 (116)||16.5 (59)||33.9 (90)||42.0 (117)
|2014-15||54.1 (27)||15.8 (18)||38.2 (22)||39.2 (128)|
While Virginia's defensive success earns a lot of attention--and rightfully so--it's worth noting that the Cavs' offense has been every bit as good this season. It's a top-five group, making it easily the most efficient offense Tony Bennett has had in his head coaching career.
The main thing driving the improvement is how well the Cavs are shooting the ball. You probably guessed that part, seein' as how shooting is just a wee bit important in basketball. There are no holes in the Cavs' scoring this season--they are shooting well from two, from three, and at the free throw line. That typically has not been the case for Bennett's teams.
Additionally, the Cavs are much more effective on the boards, another break from past Bennett tendencies. From 2007 through 2013, a span of seven seasons and two jobs, Bennett never had a team rank higher than 268th in offensive rebounding percentage.
Virginia is benefiting from the emergence of a pair of third-year players: Justin Anderson and Anthony Gill. Anderson's transformation is in some ways unbelievable--for instance, after shooting 30-102 from three last season he is 30-51 this year. He was right around 30% in each of his first two seasons, now he's up near 60%.
He's also gotten better at the line and inside the arc, but those improvements are more reasonable within the context of his track record. The result of his improved accuracy is an effective field goal percentage that ranks fifth in the nation.
Gill proved last season that he can be an efficient scorer inside the arc, and he's carried that over into his junior season; he also has gone from good offensive rebounder to great one. Between Gill and fellow big men Mike Tobey and Darion Atkins, the Cavaliers have three of the top 40 offensive rebounders in the country.
Is there anything not to like about UVA's offense right now? Uh ... no, not really, no. (You can complain about their pace, but that's another matter.) They are above average--often well above average--in every statistical category that matters.
The UVA defense
|Virginia defense -- Four Factors||eFG% (National Rank)||TO%||OR%||FT Rate|
|2013-14||44.2 (7)||18.4 (165)||25.8 (5)||32.5 (35)
|2014-15||39.1 (4)||16.5 (320)||23.6 (6)||29.2 (38)|
Virginia dismantled NC State last season by shutting down T.J. Warren and limiting the Pack to 45 points on 65 possessions. The Cavaliers were the only opponent to hold Warren to single-digit scoring all year.
During the non-conference slate this season, Virginia held four teams under 40 points, and two of those couldn't even crack 30--Harvard managed only 27 points on 59 possessions, and Rutgers scored 26 on 54 possessions. That Rutgers game was actually a rare off night for the UVA offense and they still won by 19.
Nearly everything about Virginia's defense horrifies. Bennett has turned the pack-line system into the perfect vessel for psychological obliteration, choking the life out of opponents before they've had a chance to understand what's happened to them.
The Cavs' interior defense has never been better, with opponents shooting just 35.9% inside the arc. UVA also ranks 15th in block percentage. They already played like they have six dudes on the floor, and now they have the ability affect more shots in the paint.
Opponents have been shying away from that part of the floor, not surprisingly, settling instead for a lot of three-point jumpers. That has yet to work for anybody.
The Pomeroy Predictor likes UVA by 16.