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Virginia Basketball

(Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)

Virginia Basketball Is Down, But Not for Long

Virginia Basketball
(Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)

Virginia Basketball Is Down, But Not for Long

It’s been a downright depressing year for Virginia Basketball. The Cavaliers are currently 12-8 and seventh place in the ACC. While their record wouldn’t necessarily indicate a troubling season, they are well out of the 2022 NCAA Tournament picture. Analytically speaking, Virginia sits at No. 90 in KenPom and No. 101 in Haslametrics. Although Tony Bennett’s crew hasn’t looked great this year, fans should be optimistic about a future return to the limelight.

No disrespect intended, but this is one of the worst rosters Tony Bennett has had in his time as head coach of Virginia. He’s a fantastic coach with a proven ability to win. Bennett won a national championship less than three years ago. The signature Pack Line defense and snail-like pace have made the Wahoos into a well-oiled machine. From 2014 to 2020, they never finished below seventh in KenPom’s Adjusted Defensive Efficiency metric and were bottom ten in Tempo every single year. This formula saw Virginia win four ACC regular season titles, two ACC tournaments, reach six NCAA Tournaments, and win a national championship during that period.

Then things started to go downhill. The first sign was last season’s team, which finished an uncharacteristic 36th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency and was bounced in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament by Ohio. Entering this season, Jimmer Range was all over how rough the UVA roster would be, and that has proven to be the case. But every program goes through down years. Kentucky, Duke, and UNC have all had one within the last few years. This season does not signal the end of Tony Bennett and UVA.

Virginia Will Be Back

I wholeheartedly believe that Virginia will be back competing for ACC titles within two years. That’s primarily due to faith in Tony Bennett and his system. As previously mentioned, the years spanning 2014-2020 prove that what Bennett does with his team is sustainable and effective.

Secondly, Virginia Basketball will have a very good recruiting class coming in next year. According to 247Sports, the Cavaliers will have the No. 10 class in the nation after having the No. 81 class this season. Other than Duke, their 2022 class is the highest-rated in the ACC. While the program has certainly thrived off the effectiveness of Tony Bennett’s system, they have also greatly benefitted from a number of high-quality players coming through over the years. They don’t have a Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, Mamadi Diakite, DeAndre Hunter, or Trey Murphy III on the team right now. Maybe the next iteration of those players is coming soon.

A new year and a new class may be a sign of turning tides. Reminder that the ACC as a whole is down this year, potentially receiving as few as three or four bids for the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Many programs have rebuilding to do, and Virginia’s combination of coaching and culture makes them uniquely situated to complete a rebuild faster than other programs are capable. UVA aren’t the toast of the conference this year, but Tony Bennett and company aren’t gone for good.


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