The Virginia Cavaliers won the ACC's regular-season title and tournament last season, and that success hasn’t stopped in 2014-15. Undefeated just a couple of months from the NCAA tournament, Tony Bennett’s team is 19-0 and No. 2 in the country behind only Kentucky.
This is a team and program that know who they are and how they win. The Cavaliers have tremendous trust in their coach, each other and their system. Bennett and his staff know the type of players to recruit who best fit their system and culture. Although some coaches are seduced primarily by a prospect’s potential, Virginia looks more at character, toughness, skills, work ethic and the type of teammate he will be.
Virginia does not beat itself; you have to beat the Cavaliers. They are in the top five in adjusted offensive (117.9) and defensive (83.9) efficiency. In essence, they are able to get the shot they want while severely limiting opponents’ ability to score. Bennett’s team controls the pace of the game with its offense and disrupts the rhythm with its “pack-line” defense. Teams take on average more than 20 seconds each possession to get a shot off, which ranks sixth in the country and is tops among major-conference teams.
How exactly do the Cavaliers do this? What makes them so difficult to beat? Let’s take a closer look.