ACC Stock Report: Volume IV

Posted by Matthew Auerbach on February 1st, 2019

Virginia played perhaps its worst game in conference play on Tuesday night — an uncharacteristically sloppy, and mistake-riddled effort — and still managed a road win against a top-30 team. Duke, despite devolving somewhat into a two-man show, is still running roughshod through its opposition. And while there is a four-way tie in the loss column at the top of the standings — Louisville and North Carolina are maintaining contact with the top two — it is looking increasingly likely that the teams perched #1/#2 on the KenPom ratings will ultimately separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

Stock Rising

Virginia Survived NC State Earlier This Week (USA Today Images)

Virginia Offense: While not on display in Tuesday’s victory in Raleigh, these Cavaliers are arguably the best offensive group Tony Bennett has coached in Charlottesville. Virginia now ranks as the fifth most efficient offense in college basketball — up from 30th a year ago, a season in which it earned the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Cavaliers have already exceeded 80 points six times this year, which is more than they have in their two previous campaigns combined. Bennett’s club ranks 12th nationally in making 39.6 percent of its three-pointers, led by the ACC’s best long-range shooter, Kyle Guy (45% 3FG). Combined with the versatile Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter, who currently rank ninth and 10th, respectively, in the KenPom Player of the Year standings, the Cavaliers own a trio of versatile shot creators and makers that it hasn’t had before. Its lockdown defense (second nationally in defensive efficiency) and stinginess with the ball (third in turnover percentage) haven’t gone anywhere, so the traditional ingredients of Bennett’s success still remain. But now, with a pinch of offensive explosiveness thrown into the mix, Virginia is an absolute nightmare to play.

Stock Holding

Virginia Tech/Florida State: Fair is fair.  A week ago, we opined that the Hokies and Seminoles’ escalation into the top 10 nationally had been more a product of circumstance than anything else. Maybe we got a little ahead of our skis in that detraction. Since being dismantled at North Carolina 11 days ago, Buzz Williams’ crew has responded with a home beatdown of Syracuse and a road win at Miami to improve to 17-3 overall and 6-2 in the ACC. Notable from the Syracuse win was that Justin Robinson, who had been mired in a mild shooting slump, exploded for a season-high 35 points, connecting on nine triples. The Seminoles also shrugged off a three-game losing streak in beating Clemson at home and winning in Coral Gables to get back within a game of .500. Just as importantly, Phil Cofer returned on Sunday after a two-game absence, playing 19 minutes in the 12-point victory over the Hurricanes.

Stock Falling

Jack White (USA Today Images)

Jack White: No tears will be shed for Duke, as the Blue Devils have arguably the two most talented players in college basketball right now, and neither Zion Williamson nor RJ Barrett can be harnessed by collegiate defenders. But with Tre Jones working his way back from injury and Cam Reddish experiencing some of the normal inconsistencies of most freshmen, it is fair to ask if Duke has any veterans on the roster to remove some of the excessive burden from the two superstars. It initially appeared that junior forward Jack White could be that guy. After making a three-point shot in Duke’s first seven games and in 12 of its first 13, White has made just one of his last 20 three-point attempts. Duke’s perimeter struggles have been well documented this season, but White needs to reclaim the stroke he exhibited during non-conference play if Duke wants to head into March with its strongest possible hand. There are 11 regular season games left to find it — just what everyone else needs.

Matthew Auerbach (70 Posts)

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