Ken Pomeroy has four ACC teams among his top-nine in the nation, and over the next six games FSU (13-1, 1-0) plays all of them. The murderous stretch starts this afternoon in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The Cavaliers (11-1, 1-0) are the best team in the nation according to kenpom.com, but through their first 11 games it was hard to tell because they played such a soft schedule. The only really good team they faced was West Virginia, and they lost.
Then, when conference play began, they traveled to Louisville and handily beat a Cardinals team coming off a win over Kentucky.
So yeah, Virginia is for real.
Early in the year the Cavs dismissed 5* big man Austin Nichols after one game (redefining the meaning of one-and-done), but they still have a deep and talented roster featuring seven 4* recruits.
The ‘Hoos don’t have a single player with a double-digit scoring average. Part of this is that they’re slowest team in the nation, averaging two fewer possessions than the next closest crawling team, and part of it is because they have guys who can score from every position.
Senior PG London Perrantes leads the team at 9.9 per game, but his 3-pt shooting has slipped from 49% last year to just 34% this season. He should still be a candidate for 1st Team All-ACC for the way he runs the team.
The next two top scorers both come off the bench. Electric freshman Kyle Guy makes 58% of his 3s on his way to 9.3 ppg. When Louisville was trying to come back against Virginia, head coach Tony Bennett told his team to get the ball to Guy. He might be the best shooter in basketball and will likely develop into the next great player at Virginia. And he plays with a swagger that will make him a fan favorite in Charlottesville.
Junior Marial Shayok is in his 3rd year as the team’s sixth-man. The most athletic player on the roster, he comes in gunning which can be good and bad. He’s averaging 8.1 per game, with mixed results. Regardless of his offense, his defense is always stout.
Virginia is offense by committee. They run clock. They don’t turn the ball over. They knock down shots.
Their offense is the 9th most efficient in the nation. And that’s their “weak unit”.
Defensively, they’re No. 2. Only two teams have scored more than 53 points vs the Cavs.
And that’s not just a result of their maddeningly slow tempo. They hold teams below 39% on 2s (2nd nationally), and 29% on 3s (18th). They’re a great rebounding team, and since so much of Virginia’s games are two teams passing the ball around the perimeter, they rarely get into foul trouble, so it’s tough to get to the line.
Last year, FSU flipped that script on its head and pulled the upset. They’re going to have to do the same this year: play a disruptive game and figure how to get something going in transition. If not, it will probably be a long, slow, afternoon.
The game tips at 2 PM and will be broadcast on ESPNU. The Cavaliers are favored by 10.