Why Virginia Will Not Win March Madness 2019
After a tough and surprising early exit from last year’s tournament, the Virginia Cavaliers will be trying to redeem themselves. But the Cavaliers still fall short of what it takes to be champions.
Nitrogen Sports Blog takes a look at a trio of issues which could stop Virginia in its tracks in March Madness 2019.
Snail’s pace tempo
The Virginia Cavaliers play a deliberate style of offense and smothering style of defense. The mixture of both results in the slowest tempo in college basketball. That means the Wahoos get fewer possessions than the average Division I team.
In fact, no team in all of college basketball gets fewer possessions per game than Virginia. Per KenPom, the Cavaliers have the slowest tempo in the nation with just 59.7 possessions per 40 minutes.
Tony Bennett’s installed pack line defense wreaks so much havoc on Virginia’s opponents who often have to bleed before getting a bucket — or even get off a shot.
But fewer possessions leave a much smaller margin for error, and that’s not something that doesn’t bode well for Virginia in a single game elimination tournament. The Cavaliers suffered some lapses in their usual sound play at the end of the season and saw an uptick in turnovers. Sloppy play won’t work out well for a team that intentionally tries to decrease possessions.
While Virginia’s defense has been effective all year, there is still a part of their game that can be criticized.
The Cavaliers’ transition defense has not been as good as it was last season. This might come back to haunt them as their opponents will keep getting tougher each round. Most of the top contenders specialize in pushing the tempo and attacking the rim on the break.
According to Hoop-Math, the Cavaliers have a middling transition defense in terms of opponents’ effective field goal percentage (54.2) when on the fast break.
The Cavaliers don’t have a killer scorer
Virginia doesn’t have a dynamic offensive player. De’Andre Hunter and Kyle Guy are solid contributors who put up about 15 points per game a piece, but neither are considered game changers nor top 100 scorers.
Granted that the scoring production of Virginia’s players is capped by their punishing tempo, there’s still a seeming lack of go-to-guy for the Cavs, one who consistently creates scoring chances whenever a play breaks down.
Virginia is deep and talented but it often takes great depth combined with dynamic next-level players to win the NCAA championship.
The Cavaliers are considered as among the top 10 NCAAB favorites to top the field in the national tournament.
However, bringing the title to Charlottesville is going to be easier said than done, partly because of the reasons mentioned in the above March Madness guide, which tackled the glaring weaknesses of Tony Bennett’s boys. Will the Hoos get the job done this year? Or will they return to their campus empty-handed?
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