UVA vs. Duke: Mirror images?
It doesn’t take a deep dive to see how similar the two teams are.
Both are built around Big Threes; both have talented supporting casts.
Both are ranked in the KenPom.com top five in terms of adjusted offensive efficiency; both are also ranked in the KenPom.com top five in terms of adjusted defensive efficiency.
One difference: the guy coaching the young guys is older (Mike Krzyzewski is 71); the guy coaching the older guys is younger (Tony Bennett is 49).
The younger coach has an old soul. Virginia plays the nation’s slowest pace, averaging 60.7 offensive possessions per game, 353rd, and dead last, nationally.
Duke averages 75.6 offensive possessions per game, seventh nationally.
That’s the old guy, adopting the new style: pushing pace.
Tempo is how two teams that are statistically similar in every other way can play to disparate average scores.
Duke is outscoring its opponents this year on average 90.3-66.9.
Virginia’s average score this season: 74.3-51.7.
Both play essentially position-less eight-man rotations.
Bennett will sub out 6’10” center Jack Salt for 5’9” point guard Kihei Clark.
Krzyzewski can go big with 6’11” Marques Bolden and 6’10” Javin DeLaurier or spread the floor with three-point shooters Alex O’Connell and Jack White.
But the focal points are those Big Threes, all of whom will be playing at the next level.
You know already (thanks, ESPN!) about Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and to a lesser extent Cam Reddish.
Williamson is a beast in the post at 6’7’, 285 (21.2 points/g, 66.2 percent shooting). Barrett is a 6’7” slasher/scorer (23.4 points/g), and Reddish a silky smooth 6’8” perimeter threat (13.3 points/g).
Virginia’s power troika is 6’2” Kyle Guy shooting 46.7 percent from three with the quickest release in the college game, Ty Jerome at 6’5” getting into the lane for teardrops, shooting 41.2 percent from three and dropping dimes (4.9 assists per game), and 6’7” De’Andre Hunter a threat in the post and dribble-drives (54.7 percent on two-point shots) and the perimeter (44.4 percent from three).
They can all score. They can all defend – each of the six are rated in the top 20 in the ACC in defensive rating, per sports-reference.com.
It really is like looking in a mirror, just that the images on the one side move a little faster.
Column by Chris Graham