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Inside the Numbers: Virginia, now, is a national title contender

kihei clark uva clemson
Kihei Clark celebrates Virginia’s 85-50 win over Clemson. Photo courtesy Atlantic Coast Conference.

Start of the day Saturday, KenPom had Virginia going 12-6 in the ACC, finishing the regular season 16-8. End of the day: the algorithm has the ‘Hoos favored to win out.

So does BartTorvik.com.

Both had UVA losing to Clemson ahead of that sublime 85-50 Cavaliers’ win.

Which, can’t blame the computers.

Coming in, it was Clemson that had the resume.

Three KP Top 30 wins – Purdue, Alabama, Florida State.

One loss – at Virginia Tech, which has three Top 25 wins.

Virginia hadn’t beaten anybody of consequence. Had an early loss to San Francisco, which is 9-7, with an L to UMass-Lowell.

That ugly 98-75 loss to #1 Gonzaga.

The Clemson win now has Virginia looking like … well, the Virginia we thought we’d see coming into the season.

The experts had Virginia as the ACC favorite, preseason #4 in the AP Top 25.

Hadn’t looked like that yet before Saturday.

Even at 4-0 in the ACC, the wins were over Notre Dame, twice, Boston College, Wake Forest, none exactly convincing.

The best non-conference win was … Kent State?

And that one was in OT.

Coming in, KenPom had UVA a lackluster 16th nationally, 33rd in adjusted offense, 13th in adjusted defense.

Now: 11th in offense, ninth in defense.

That profile: well, interesting.

National champ Adjusted Offensive Efficiency Adjusted Defensive Efficiency
Virginia (2018-2019) 123.2 (2) 86.1 (2)
Villanova (2017-2018) 127.4 (1) 96.0 (22)
North Carolina (2016-2017) 122.1 (4) 94.1 (25)
Villanova (2015-2016) 118.3 (15) 91.6 (7)
Duke (2014-2015) 124.3 (3) 94.9 (37)
UConn (2013-2014) 111.4 (57) 92.2 (12)
Louisville (2012-2013) 114.3 (17) 83.2 (1)
Kentucky (2011-2012) 120.6 (2) 88.8 (6)
UConn (2010-2011) 114.8 (21) 93.1 (27)
Duke (2009-2010) 119.3 (4) 87.7 (5)
North Carolina (2008-2009) 122.6 (1) 94.1 (37)
Kansas (2007-2008) 121.4 (1) 87.5 (3)
Florida (2006-2007) 120.9 (2) 92.1 (14)
Florida (2005-2006) 116.0 (13) 92.1 (18)
North Carolina (2004-2005) 121.1 (3) 91.8 (12)
UConn (2003-2004) 116.2 (11) 90.3 (10)
Syracuse (2002-2003) 113.9 (18) 94.0 (31)
Maryland (2001-2002) 118.2 (4) 91.3 (12)

 
Eleven of the 18 champs in the KenPom.com era were ranked in the Top 20 on offense and defense,  and four, including the 2008 Kansas team and the 2019 UVA team, ranked in the Top 5 in both.

Looking at the current KenPom numbers, there are eight teams ranked in the Top 20 on offense and defense:

  • Gonzaga (offense: 1, defense,: 14)
  • Baylor (offense: 4, defense: 1)
  • Michigan (offense: 9, defense: 11)
  • Virginia (offense: 11, defense: 9)
  • Texas (offense 12, defense 8)
  • Wisconsin (offense 16, defense 5)
  • Colorado (offense 17, defense 12)
  • Alabama (offense 20, defense 17)

If your national champ comes from that group, and the numbers suggest it will, Virginia is one of your eight.

Story by Chris Graham


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