We are eight games into the basketball season and the Hoos have started another season 4-4. There are only five more non-conference games before we start the full ACC schedule and there are a few trends that have emerged that have been lost in transition. We here at Lambeth Field understand that Tony Bennett has inherited all of his players and that it will take a while before the immediate effects of his recruiting efforts will show up in the standings. But as far as this season goes, it might be “same story, different year.”
This is the first part of a 3 part series on the basketball season, because, hey, it’s a little slow this time of year. In part 2, we will look at how the transition to Tony Bennett’s “possession” style of play is panning out for the Wahoos. And later this week in part 3, we will break down the remaining ACC games.
For the purpose of these articles, we will be looking at it from a primarily ACC angle. To compare UVa to Hartford or Presbyterian would not be prudent as a majority of our competition from here on out will be national quality teams found in the 16 game ACC tilt, who are all playing an easier non-conference schedule as well to get ready for the impending inter-conference slug fest. With this in mind, the current national RPI rankings are as follows:
NC State 31
Georgia Tech 53
Virginia Tech 55
Florida State 60
North Carolina 74
Wake Forest 82
Boston College 102
Granted, these RPI numbers are extremely low across the board and will settle out as the ACC season goes along. Also, the RPI is not the “end all, be all” defining rankings, but, whether they admit it or not, the NCAA uses these ranking to put teams in post seasons tournaments, with the exception of the CBI, which is all about the cash. In analysis on these numbers, some points can inferred. First, as always, Duke is number one. They are playing the hardest schedule so far for any team in the country, and they are being rewarded for that despite their loss to Wisconsin. Second, only 5 teams (Duke, NC State, Clemson, Maryland, and Boston College) have a strength of schedule (SOS) less than 100. Third, NC State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech are higher than expected this early on due to playing teams that were thought to be pushovers having better than average seasons. Lastly, and this is a biggie, North Carolina and Wake Forrest are lower than average playing sub-par schedules. These are two traditional ACC powerhouses that are also going through rebuilding years, but somehow have managed to go 8-2 and 6-2, respectfully.
What does this mean for UVa? Well it shows that UVa is still not a prime time team. It has not been a rebuilding year so much as a reprogramming year for the Wahoos. Adjusting to Tony Bennett’s system has not been as smooth as anticipated, especially against an SOS which ranks 186 out of 347. Of our first eight games, Auburn has been the “hardest” team we have played with an RPI of 103. The best team that we have beat has been Oral Roberts with an RPI of 195. With the exception of Longwood (318) our competition has been around the 200 mark.
We will have 3 decent opportunities to win in the coming month with New Jersey Institute of Technology (304), Hampton (291) and Texas Pan-American (299) yet to play. On the flip side, we still have UNC-Wilmington (146) and UAB (84) which should be competitive home games, but will need a better than average home effort to win. We will break down these games in Part 3 of our series.
Next time we will look at how Virginia stacks up to the rest of the ACC statistically. Spoiler alert: it’s not to good.