#3 Virginia Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Virginia Cavaliers

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #3
Conference Rank: #2 ACC

Virginia Team Page#3 Virginia Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Virginia Basketball Tickets

Virginia started last season 19-0 and at one point were 28-1. Even a late regular season loss to Louisville did not prevent the Cavaliers from winning the ACC regular season title with a 16-2 record. But the Cavaliers also lost their second game in the ACC Tournament to North Carolina and there were some questions about their form heading into the NCAA Tournament. And it turned out Coach Tony Bennett’s team was not playing their best basketball in March. After slipping past Belmont 79-67, Virginia was upset by Final Four bound Michigan State in the Third Round. Like all Virginia teams though, this group will play great defense and keep themselves in every single game. And there is a lot of experience here, so do not be surprised if Virginia wins their third straight ACC title and again reaches the 30 win mark.

2014-15 Record: 30-4, 16-2
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tony Bennett
Coach Record: 136-64 at Virginia, 205-97 overall

Who’s Out:
Justin Anderson was one of the rare cases of a Virginia player leaving early for the NBA. As a junior he averaged 12.2 points per game and shot an impressive 45.2 percent from the floor. He ended up being selected 21st overall in the 2015 NBA Draft. Anderson’s offensive game will be missed on a team that does need some offensive weapons to have success in the NCAA Tournament. The other loss is fellow starter Darion Atkins, a 6-8 forward. Atkins had been seeing his minutes drop, but he really stepped up for his senior season, averaging 7.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.

Who’s In:
The frontcourt adds some physicality with this group. Jack Salt redshirted last season and that year in the program should have the 6-11, 250 pound center ready to battle it out in the paint. Incoming freshmen Jarred Reuter and Mamadi Diakite are tough players too. Those three, especially Salt, will provide depth in the frontcourt, but this is Virginia and Coach Bennett will not ask them to do too much right away. Justice Bartley adds depth to the backcourt, but the one newcomer who could play a pretty big role is Tennessee transfer Darius Thompson. The 6-4 sophomore was a part-time starter for the Volunteers two years ago and he is a versatile combo guard who should find a spot in the regular rotation.

Who to Watch:
Most of the offense will come from Malcolm Brogdon. The senior guard led the team with 14.0 points per game and added 2.4 assists and 3.9 rebounds. He is the most dynamic scoring threat on the team and will be taking all of the big shots for UVA. The key for this team will be finding a secondary scorer. It likely won’t be point guard London Perrantes. Perrantes is a great floor general and defender, but he is not very aggressive when it comes to finding shots for himself. Marial Shayok is an option in the backcourt too. As a freshman last year he averaged nearly 15 minutes per game, which is quite a few for a freshman under Coach Bennett. The 6-5 wing is a capable outside shooter and has the size to attack the basket too. With more shots to go around, he could see a big increase in his 3.8 points per game. Evan Nolte is a stretch forward who is capable of knocking down shots, although his shots were not falling last year. The most obvious answer is Anthony Gill, a 6-8 senior who averaged 11.6 points and a team high 6.5 rebounds last season. He will be asked to do a lot more this year and Virginia hopes he has a big senior season.

Final Projection:
Virginia has a history of big men having solid senior seasons, like Atkins last year. The hope is that continues with Gill and Mike Tobey. Tobey is a seven-footer who averaged 6.9 points and 5.1 rebounds mostly off of the bench last season. He is a good finisher around the basket and, of course, can play pretty good defense on the other end of the floor. If he can play 25 to 30 minutes per game and protect the rim like Atkins did last season, this team will once again lead the nation in scoring defense. And as long as the defense does what it always does, Virginia just needs to find somebody else to make big shots for when the defense keys in on Brogdon.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
London Perrantes, Junior, Guard, 6.4 points per game
Malcolm Brogdon, Senior, Guard, 14.0 points per game
Marial Shayok, Sophomore, Guard, 3.8 points per game
Anthony Gill, Senior, Forward, 11.6 points per game
Mike Tobey, Senior, Center, 6.9 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 65.4 (219th in nation, 12th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 51.4 (1, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.7 (67, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 36.7 (3, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.0 (296, 10)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.2 (131, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.6 (53, 3)
Rebound Margin: 7.7 (8, 1)
Assists Per Game: 12.6 (167, 9)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.3 (3, 1)

Madness 2015 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#164 Jarred Reuter


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