Inside the Numbers: UVA hoops getting hosed at the foul line?

virginia uvaI hate it when fans and fanzine-type writers prattle on about fouls and bad officiating. I say that as a prelude to a column about UVA hoops, fouls and bad officiating.

Actually, I don’t know that I can call it bad officiating, what we saw on Sunday in the Cavs’ 61-59 loss at #1 Villanova, which no matter how you slice it was all about a glaring discrepancy at the free-throw line.

For the game, ‘Nova was 20-of-24 at the charity stripe, while Virginia was just 3-of-3.

On its face, that’s evidence of nothing. Perhaps the Wildcats were just attacking the basket more, UVA was settling for threes, that kind of thing.

OK, so the ‘Hoos put up 18 three-point attempts, 36 percent of their 50 shots from the field. ‘Nova put up 16 from long-range, 40 percent of its 40 shots from the floor.

So the barrage of threes idea doesn’t explain it.

Villanova did get to the rim a little more than Virginia: going 13-of-20 on layups and dunks, to UVA’s 11-of-14.

Virginia was also 8-of-18 on jumpers; ‘Nova was 0-of-3.

Wow, absolutely nothing in the mid-range. Interesting.

The final foul tally was UVA 18, Villanova 8. Anecdotally, there were missed calls on the Virginia offensive end. Just in the closing minutes, Marial Shayok was clearly bumped on a driving layup that put the Cavs up one, and London Perrantes was pounded on a drive (that counted as a jumper, though it was in the lane, three feet from the rim), and neither got a call.

Eight fouls is a joke, obviously, against a team getting to the rim 14 times (or more) in a 55-possession game, but it is what it is.

And what it is: it was the third time this season a winning UVA opponent put up 24 or more free-throw attempts in a game in which the Cavs shot five or less.

In Florida State’s 60-58 win at Virginia on Dec. 31, the Seminoles shot 24 free throws (making only 12, but still), while UVA was 3-of-5 at the line.

On Jan. 4 at Pitt, in what turned into an 88-76 overtime loss, the Panthers shot 28 free throws to UVA’s 5.

I wasn’t able to access the deep-dive numbers on shots at the rim and mid-range for those two, so I’m left looking at the number of threes per team per game (FSU shot 16, UVA 15; Pitt shot 21, UVA 20) as the basis of the observation that nothing looks too far out of line there.

I could point out points in the paint in both games: a 16-16 deadlock in the FSU game, and a 38-24 advantage for Virginia at Pitt.

See what I’m getting at here? Basically you have three games in which both teams seem to be shooting the same ratio of three-point shots, on which there are rarely fouls called, and both teams are attacking the lane, where you do see fouls called, at least equally.

Sum total free-throw attempts for Virginia in the three: 13.

Sum total free-throw attempts for FSU, Pitt and ‘Nova: 76.

Virginia lost the FSU game on a three-pointer with 2.2 seconds to go, lost to Pitt in OT, and lost to Villanova at the buzzer.

Anything resembling equality in those three games – hell, just give Virginia one or two more trips to the line – and we’re talking different outcomes.

Which isn’t to say that there’s any kind of conspiracy against Virginia basketball, as much as we want to think that, because nothing else makes sense, right?

Let’s leave it at this: Tony Bennett and the staff need to coach Perrantes, Shayok, Devon Hall and crew to make it look more obvious when they are met with contact on shots and dribble drives.

Bottom line. No other way to say it.

Column by Chris Graham

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