2016-2017 Overall Rank: #10
Conference Rank: #4 ACC
Virginia has continually shown under the direction of head coach Tony Bennett that they are a strong program that can knock off anyone on any given day during the regular season. The Cavaliers won 29 games last season and earned a number one seed in the Midwest Region, but suffered a bitterly disappointing loss to Syracuse in the Elite Eight. Despite the losses of Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill from last season, Virginia is in a great position once again to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament as they return a great mix of veterans to go along with some talented newcomers.
2015-16 Record: 29-8, 13-5
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tony Bennett
Coach Record: 165-72 at Virginia, 234-105 overall
Malcolm Brogdon averaged 18.2 points per game last season for the Cavaliers and shot just under 40 percent from three-point range. Brogdon also was selected in the second round of the NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and made their opening day roster. So Brogdon’s lost production and leadership will be a significant void that needs to be filled for the Cavaliers. Anthony Gill averaged 13.8 points per game while shooting 58 percent from the floor. Mike Tobey was one of those textbook Tony Bennett type of players who could do a little everything at both ends of the basketball court.
Four ESPN Top100 players highlight the incoming class of new players for coach Bennett and his staff. Kyle Guy is a very versatile guard that should come in and start right away. Guy should also be a great fit within the Virginia system as he can play the point or shooting guard and not miss a beat. Ty Jerome is a pure point guard that should also be able to make an immediate impact either off the bench or as a starter. De’Andre Hunter and Jay Huff are also top prospects with a lot of upside, especially if both guys can get stronger in the weight room and get their weights over 200 pounds through pure muscle. Austin Nichols is a talented Memphis transfer that is eligible, but he will miss the season opener at UNC Greensboro due to a violation of team rules. Redshirt freshman forward Mamadi Diakite will add to Virginia’s tough interior defense.
Who to Watch:
London Perrantes will take the reins of the offense as the primary scorer with the departures of Brogdon and Gill. Perrantes averaged 11.0 points per game and was lights out shooting from the perimeter, hitting 48.8 percent of his three point shots last season. The experience that Perrantes brings to the table can’t be underestimated as well heading into this season. Isaiah Wilkins will look to take another step forward in his development after starting 21 games last season and averaging just five points per game. A nice step forward for Wilkins will be to boost his scoring average up closer to 8-10 points per game, if not more. Devon Hall is coming off a solid season where he started 20 times and ranked third on the team in assists with 74. He should help Perrantes lead the freshmen guards. Darius Thompson is going to be another key role player. He hit a game-winning shot at Wake Forest and shot 53.7 percent from the field while making ten starts last season.
The schedule is balanced for the Cavaliers as far as the non-conference portion is concerned. Ohio State and West Virginia will come to Charlottesville. Virginia will play Iowa and then either Memphis or Providence over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend down in Niceville, Florida. Finally, a trip to play California will be great preparation for ACC play as Haas Pavilion is a snake pit at times as the Golden Bears fans are right on top of the visiting team. A return trip to play Villanova in Philadelphia is on the schedule as well for January 29th. On December 28th, the Cavaliers will play at Louisville in a game that will set the tone for ACC play as the scheduling gods did spare Virginia a trip to Duke during the regular season. In the end, this is a Cavaliers team that will need some time to find the right rotation of players, but they should peak at the right time in February and March with a shot to win 30 games or more this season.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
London Perrantes, Senior, Guard, 11.0 points per game
Kyle Guy, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Devon Hall, Redshirt Junior, Guard, 4.4 points per game
Isaiah Wilkins, Junior, Forward, 4.6 points per game
Austin Nichols, Junior, Forward, DNP last season.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.0 (227th in nation, 12th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 60.1 (2, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 49.1 (7, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.0 (90, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.1 (270, 11)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 40.3 (10, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.2 (17, 1)
Rebound Margin: 3.8 (58, 6)
Assists Per Game: 14.9 (76, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.3 (4, 1)
Madness 2017 NBA Draft Rankings:
#50 Austin Nichols
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#34 Kyle Guy
#36 Ty Jerome
#49 Jay Huff
#79 DeAndre Hunter