2011-2012 ACC Preview: #3 Virginia

The 2011-2012 ACC season is about to begin. Over the next three weeks, Crazie Talk will preview each of the twelve ACC teams in order that we think they’ll finish this season – from the bottom up.

Let’s take a look at our projected 3rd-place finishers, the Virginia Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers are off to a hot start this year, but will their success carry into ACC season? (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

2011-2012 Record: 13-1

Key Wins:
November 29- Virginia 70, Michigan 58
December 18- Virginia 67, Oregon 54

Tough Losses:
November 18- TCU 57, Virginia 55

Starting Lineup:[table id=26 /]Last Year Against Duke:
January 15, 2011 at Duke- Duke 76, Virginia 60
February 16, 2011 in Charlottesville- Duke 56, Virginia 41

This Year Against Duke:
January 12, 2012 at Duke

The Good: The Cavaliers are the toughest defensive team in the ACC. Opponents are scoring just 50.3 points per game against them this season. They have allowed more than 58 points on just one occasion, and have held opponents to less than 50 points six times this year. Virginia is also one of the better free throw shooting teams in the conference, converting on 73.3% of its opportunities from the charity stripe. They are not afraid to grind out games and win ugly, but have not played many particularly close games this year. Virginia’s smallest margin of victory this season is six points, and the Cavaliers are winning by an average of 17.1 points per game.

The Bad: This team is not very tested, facing just one ranked opponent thus far. Although they are off to a 12-1 start, the Cavaliers’ record is a bit deceiving on the surface, considering some of their wins have come against teams like South Carolina State, Green Bay, Longwood, Seattle, and Maryland-Eastern Shore. This is also not a team built to play in a shootout. They convert efficiently from the inside, but are not an outside shooting team by any means- senior guard Sammy Zeglinski is the only threat on the entire roster to hit from deep. This could become an issue when playing against the top teams in the conference.

The Crazie: Virginia has one of the tougher ACC schedules. They only play Boston College, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, and Miami, four of the bottom five teams in our ACC preview, one time each. Meanwhile, they’re faced with two matchups against Maryland, Virginia Tech, Florida State, and North Carolina teams placed 7th, 5th, 4th, and 1st in our preview. This should provide for some difficult road tests for the Cavaliers while other teams will get the luxury of playing an extra game against conference bottom-feeders. Luckily for the Cavaliers, they have a fairly experienced team. Only one freshman plays in the top eight of Virginia’s rotation. This experience should mean plenty during ACC season but won’t mean much come tournament time. The Cavaliers haven’t made any sort of postseason appearance since 2007-2008.

Player We Love To Hate: Mike Scott. The Blue Devils did not see Scott in either matchup with Virginia last year as he battled injuries, but he has reasserted himself as one of the top big men in the ACC this season. Scott currently ranks fifth in the conference in scoring with 16.3 points per game and fourth in rebounding with 9.0 per game. He leads the conference in field goal shooting, shooting 62.4% from the floor. Scott is also no liability from the foul line, shooting an 80% clip on the season. Although he is only 6-foot-8, Scott plays a bigger game than his actual size, so he can cause trouble for opposing big men with his ability to get up and down the floor.

The Bottom Line: A team that plays defense this well shouldn’t have much trouble putting away most of the weaker competition in the ACC this year. They’re a threat to win just about any game, but could suffer from a fairly difficult conference schedule. Their toughness should prevail, and as long as they play their brand of basketball the Cavaliers should see a successful season. There’s very little doubt that this year’s Virginia team will be the first to receive a bid to the NCAA tournament since 2006-2007, and with the Cavs already breaking into the top-25 at this point in the year, there’s a good chance their seed won’t be too shabby either.

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Crazie-Talk’s 2011-2012 ACC Preview:

Boston College | Wake Forest | Clemson | Miami | Georgia Tech | Maryland

North Carolina State | Virginia Tech | Florida State | Virginia | Duke | North Carolina

3 thoughts on “2011-2012 ACC Preview: #3 Virginia

  1. I completely agree that this Virginia team is not tested, but they did add another quality road win last night at LSU.

    This team will not have to worry about being in a shootout. Virginia has controlled the pace in every game this season, and, with one of the best defenses in the country, they should be able to win most games by only scoring in the 60’s.

    Also, sophomore guard Joe Harris is a big scoring threat and a solid outside shooter.

    Depth will be a struggle all season for the Cavaliers, but if they can stay rested and healthy, this could be a very successful campaign.

    • Very thorough analysis. I agree the win last night on the road in Baton Rouge was impressive and gives me a bit more confidence about this team.

      Harris has proven to be a solid scoring threat but has outside shooting has been above average at best. He shot 2/3 last night to raise his season average to 35%. Normally that’s not where you want your second (and only other) long distance threat to sit.

      We should know a lot more about what this Virginia team is made of when they come to Cameron on January 12th. It won’t be an easy game for Duke early in their ACC schedule.

  2. Good writeup, fairly balanced and informed.

    I agree about UVa’s abysmal strength of schedule to date, something most UVa fans are concerned about in terms of NCAA selection and seeding.

    Given the weak non-conference slate, many of us are actually glad that we face a tough conference slate in the unbalanced schedule. Should help to improve overall strength of schedule, and of course, provide a number of opportunities to prove the ‘hoos deserve their ranking.

    I think you’re under-rating Harris as a shooter, though. He is actually an excellent long range shooter whose numbers this year aren’t as good as last year’s, but it’s early, and I think you’ll see those numbers go up.

    He shot 41.7% from three point range as a freshman, hit 65 threes in the season (which, at UVa’s pace, is a REALLY high number), good for second all time in program history — again, at a much slower pace than most of the others in UVa’s top 10.

    Disregard Harris as a shooter at your peril. I can guarantee that K won’t.

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