Memo to Jay Bilas: UVA leads ACC in scoring margin

uva-basketball newESPN analyst Jay Bilas is a much smarter guy than he is when it comes to talking about #2 UVA and how the Cavs supposedly play closer games than anybody else because of their slower tempo.

Bilas trotted out the tired argument on an appearance on “The Tony Kornheiser Show” on ESPN-980 in Washington, D.C., on Friday.

Asked by Kornheiser, who likes the Cavs’ chances in a hypothetical matchup with top-ranked Kentucky, about UVA’s chances to make the Final Four, Bilas demurred, using the tempo argument to make the claim popular with national writers and broadcasters that Virginia’s tempo keeps its games too close for comfort.

Funny thing when you look at the numbers: UVA doesn’t play closer games because of its tempo. In fact, when you factor in tempo, you have to shake your head when you realize that Virginia is sixth in the nation in scoring margin, at +16.2 points per game.

(Unbeaten Kentucky leads with a +22.0 points per game scoring margin.)

Looking at just ACC games, and Virginia’s margin drops to +12.8 points per game. That’s still good for first by a mile in the ACC. Duke, the darling of ESPN and the national folks in general, in part because it plays a much faster tempo than Virginia, is second with a +7.1 points per game scoring margin.

Breaking that down, UVA has eight double-digit ACC wins; Duke, king of tempo, has five.

(Duke also has two double-digit ACC losses.)

Looking at 20-plus-point wins in ACC play: UVA has three, Duke has three.

Enough about tempo already.

– Column by Chris Graham

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