2014 NCAA Tournament Preview: Virginia Cavaliers

2014 NCAA Tournament Preview: Virginia Cavaliers
March 16, 2014, 6:15 pm
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Team: Virginia Cavaliers (28-6, 16-2, ACC)

Seed/Region: No. 1/East

Status: Automatic bid

Matchup: vs. No. 16 Coastal Carolina (21-12, 11-5 Big South)

Where: Raleigh, N.C.

History: 18th appearance in program history, first since 2012

Coach: Tony Bennett, 5th season

Leaders: Scoring (Malcolm Brogdon, 12.3), Rebounding (Akil Mitchell, 6.9), Assists (London Perrantes, 3.8)

What's new: Virginia claimed its second ACC Tournament title and first since 1976 with a 72-63 victory over Duke on Sunday behind Brogdon's 23 points. The Cavs have won 16 of their last 17 games.

What to know: Senior Joe Harris entered the season as a frontrunner for ACC Player of the Year, but took a step back statistically this campaign. The 6-foot-8 forward (11.6 ppg) did so for the good of the team and the Cavs flourished. Harris took on the star role during the tournament, averaging 15.7 points.

Notable wins: Syracuse, Duke, North Carolina, Pittsburgh (2)

[RELATED: Meet all 68 teams in the 2014 NCAA tournament]

Notable losses: 87-52 at Tennessee; Maryland, Green Bay

Simply notable: The Cavaliers won their first ACC regular season title since the Ralph Sampson-led 1981 team

KenPom: Overall (5), Offense adjusted efficiency (28), Defense adjusted efficiency (3)

RPI: 11

Strength: Cliché or not, the Cavs assert their will on both ends of the court. In other words, it's no fun to play them unless you're into black-and-blue basketball.

Weakness: Not built to catch up offensively so must avoid slow starts or foes pushing the pace

Scoring: 66 points per game

Good stat: Hold opponents to 38.5 field goal percentage

Bad stat: Shoot 66 percent from the free throw line

Key player: The freshman Perrantes played with poise throughout the season. He ranked third in assist/turnover ratio (3.6) among ACC players - ahead of Syracuse freshman Tyler Ennis - and had only one turnover in the first two games of the conference tournament. Historically the NCAA's are not a safe haven for first-year point guards and Perrantes must maintain a walk-up pace for the Cavs to survive and advance.

Key to success: Virginia can grind with the best of them thanks its "pack-line" defense. Offensively, Brogdon turned into an All-ACC performer this season and the patient squad can carve up opposing defenses. Keep the score in the 50s and 60s, we're talking about a deep tournament run. This season the Cavaliers are 6-0 in neutral site games.

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