Championship Or Bust: Virginia Cavaliers

By Emily Van Buskirk / @Emilnem & Josh Naso / @silverfox8008

National championships are hard to come by, and just because you are ranked at the top doesn’t mean somebody from the bottom won’t knock you off on the road to Houston. It’s true that the stronger your ranking, the smoother your path to success, but not everybody has an airtight case (Villanova, I’m looking at you). That is where we come in.

In honor of the beginning of the arguably the best month in sports, we at TSFJ have decided to celebrate the calm before the madness by breaking down each of the AP Top 5 teams. Will they make a national title run or not? Let’s figure out your bracket together.
Next up: The No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers

Why They Will It All

Virginia can win a national title because the Cavaliers excel at finishing strong. They have played their best basketball this season during the second half of games.
  • Fact: Virginia has scored more points in the second half than the first half in nearly every game.
  • Fact: The Cavaliers are averaging 39.3 points in the second half, compared to 31 in the first.
  • Fact: UVA is shooting 54.7 percent on its second-half shots, including 47.6 percent from three-point range, but only 44.3 percent on its first-half shots and 32.7 percent from three-point range.
Also, the Cavaliers have redshirt senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who is on pace to become the first UVA player since Sean Singletary to lead Virginia in scoring for three straight seasons. He is averaging 18.5 points per game while the Cavaliers are averaging 70 points per game and shooting nearly 50 percent from the field. 
 They lead the ACC in scoring defense (60.2), field goal percentage (49.2), three-point field goal percentage (40.3), rebounding defense (28.5) and defensive rebound percentage (74.1). 
Virginia has proven it can hold its own against the tough teams in the ACC conference, thus proving the Cavaliers can navigate their way smoothly through the NCAA tournament. 

Why They Won't Win It All

We are all aware of Virginia’s well-deserved reputation for shut-down defense. Come tournament time, it’s hard to bet against a squad that can completely stifle its opponent. At the end of the day, however, you have to put the ball in the basket, and Virginia’s inability to do that will be its Achilles heel and ultimately doom the Cavaliers' championship aspirations.

Outside of the trio of Malcolm Brogdon, Anthony Gill and London Perrantes, Virginia doesn’t have anyone averaging over seven points per game. Brogdon is a put-the-team-on-his-back type of player, but teams will relentlessly key on the senior and do everything in their power to prevent him from beating them. As good as Gill has been this season, he just isn’t the type of scorer who can singlehandedly make up for an ineffective Brogdon.

Even with Brogdon averaging 18.5 points per game and Gill chipping in 13.6, the Cavaliers rank 235th in the nation in scoring. One way a team can look to make up for shortages in the scoring department is with stellar rebounding, particularly on the offensive end, to give itself second and third looks at the basket. But Virginia’s rebounding ranks even worse than its scoring, at 329th in the country, despite rebounding quite well on the defensive end..

Despite the stellar play of Brogdon and Gill and their stout defense, the lack of firepower will be too much for the Cavaliers to overcome.

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