Undervalued at #3: UVA still not getting respect on national stage

uva-basketball newWith UVA at #3 in the national polls, the writers who can be said to broadly cover the college basketball scene are being forced to acknowledge that the sun doesn’t rise and set in the ACC on an eight-mile stretch of highway between Durham and Chapel Hill anymore.

They’re doing so begrudgingly. As I write this column, the featured story on ESPN.com’s college basketball page is an insider post raising skepticism about Virginia’s 13-0 start, including its two wins this week, at home over Davidson (10-2, RPI 37) and at Miami (10-4, RPI 97).

The other point made in the ESPN column was one that I made last night after the 89-80 double-OT win at Miami, that UVA’s defense has been surprisingly subpar of late.

(The writer then goes on later in the column to write a rah-rah blurb about how great Maryland has been this season. Maryland, at 14-1, without any note about the one that put the one in 14-1.)

But the point about the D was made to buttress the point that the Cavs are only serving to fuel their skeptics with their play of late. Keep in mind that this is a team that is 13-0 against a schedule tougher than Duke’s, tougher than UNC’s, which is to say, not exactly chopped liver.

To wit: UVA is 3-0 vs. the RPI Top 25, 5-0 vs. the RPI Top 50 and 8-0 vs. the RPI Top 100. Duke, one spot ahead of Virginia at #2 in the national polls, is 1-0 vs. the RPI Top 25, 4-0 vs. the RPI Top 50 and 6-0 vs. the RPI Top 100.

Top-ranked Kentucky is 4-0 vs. the RPI Top 25, 6-0 vs. the RPI Top 50 and also 6-0 vs. the RPI Top 100.

Virginia defeated #4 RPI VCU on the road by 17, defeated #14 RPI Maryland on the road by 11, beat #23 RPI George Washington at home by 15, beat #37 RPI Davidson at home by 11, beat #49 RPI Harvard at home by 49.

Ratings are snapshots in time, and there’s a lot of basketball to be played between now and April, and a lot can happen between now and then. I’m not saying here that what Virginia has done to start 13-0 makes the Cavs a lock to do anything in particular in March and into April. Despite what too many people like to think that they believe, nothing is a done deal three months out.

What I am saying is that UVA’s 13-0 start is legit, that these ‘Hoos, the defending ACC regular-season and tournament champs, are for real, and that it boggles my mind that this is still not sinking in with the Duke-obsessed.

– Column by Chris Graham

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