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Virginia remains a defensive nightmare for NC State, and everybody else

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

NC State is in Charlottesville this evening coming off its third one-game win streak of 2016. The Wolfpack has a half dozen games left in which to play spoiler--or make a miracle run; my money is on miracle run--beginning with Virginia on Monday.

The Cavaliers are in a tie for third in the ACC, 1.5 games behind first-place North Carolina. They'd be in better shape without the, um, unpleasantness they endured Saturday, but as it is they gotta get cookin'. They've been making up for lost time since a 2-3 start to league play, slowly making their way up the conference standings and national rankings. They are No. 2 in the Pomeroy Ratings.

It doesn't really feel like the vintage Tony Bennett teams of the last couple years, but those UVA squads never finished a season higher than fourth in the Pomeroy Ratings, either.

UVA Offense -- Four Factors eFG% TO% OR% FT Rate
2015-16 Overall (National Rank) 54.9 (21) 15.3 (20) 29.5 (186) 33.5 (255)
2015-16 ACC Only (Conf. Rank) 54.2 (2) 16.7 (8) 24.6 (13) 35.6 (8)

Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes. Will they ever graduate? Probably not. Will I still occasionally get them confused? Yeah I'd imagine so. I appreciate Perrantes trying to help out with the hairstyle though.

Brogdon's workload has never been higher, and he's responded with career-highs in 2FG% (.498) and 3FG% (.391). Those shooting percentages don't represent significant improvements from his career averages, but when taken in the context of his workload, they illustrate an impressive step forward. Few ACC teams are relying on one guy to generate offense like UVA relies on Brodgon.

Perrantes is still content to run the show and play a secondary role in the scoring, though he is having an incredible year shooting from three. He's 47-88 (53.4%) from deep this season, making him the most accurate three-point shooter in the country.

Anthony Gill is the other major contributor to the offense and a robotic mark of consistency. His two-point shooting the last three years: 58.7% (2014), 58.4% (2015), 57.6% (2016). Last year he hit 56.9% of his twos in ACC games, and this year he's at 56.8%. Like a lot of Bennett's players, Gill doesn't necessarily wow you with his talent, but he does a lot of things well.

UVA Defense -- Four Factors eFG% TO% OR% FT Rate
2015-16 Overall (National Rank) 48.4 (109) 19.7 (88) 25.1 (20) 34.4 (117)
2015-16 ACC Only (Conf. Rank) 48.9 (5) 18.0 (7) 24.9 (1) 34.0 (6)

Nobody plays boa constrictor better than Virginia. The Cavs' deliberate offense gets you drowsy, and then their defense puts you to sleep and eats you. Opponents average 19 seconds per offensive possession against UVA, which ranks 350th (out of 351) nationally. It takes teams forever (relatively speakin') to figure out what they want to try to do against Bennett's pack-line.

... 25 seconds on shot clock ...

I'm tired.

... 20 seconds on shot clock ...

Why do my bones hurt.

... 15 seconds on shot clock ...

What was I doing again?

... 10 seconds on shot clock ...

oh I think I see a colorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrsafddddddddddddddd

... 5 seconds on shot clock ...

*unconscious, drooling*

[horn sounds, possession/life over]

UVA's interior defense isn't as good as it has been in recent years (still well above average), but the Cavs are forcing more turnovers, and most importantly, grabbing three-quarters of opponents' missed shots. The recipe for Bennett's teams has always been forcing opponents to miss twos and then cleaning up those misses. Works as well as it ever did.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes UVA by 13.