2014 Virginia Cavaliers Predictions and NCAA Basketball Futures Odds
by Aaron Smith - 11/3/2014
Every year since Tony Bennett has arrived at Virginia the team has won more games than they did the year before. In his five years, they have won 15 games, 16 games, 22 games, 23 games, and then last year 30 games. That trend is going to be mighty hard to continue this year, but there's little doubt that Bennett has been tremendous at the helm of this Cavaliers program.
Virginia has now had three straight winning seasons in the ACC for the first time since 1981-1983 when a guy by the name of Ralph Sampson was dominating on the hardcourt in Virginia. Bennett's teams play at a slow tempo and win with ball control and defense. As the team has gotten more talented, though, the Cavaliers style of play has changed a bit. When Bennett first arrived, they didn't have enough firepower to beat anyone good. Virginia has been recruiting much better, and now they are combining their high-IQ type play with more athleticism. It's a perfect match, and it's one of the reasons this team is going to be reckoned with for a long time to come.
Virginia swept the ACC regular season and conference tournament titles for the first time in school history last year. What can they do in the season ahead?
2014 Virginia Key Losses & Additions
Joe Harris was the heart and soul of this team for the past four years. It's really hard to lose a guy who finished No. 11 on the all-time scoring list at the school. His career three-point percentage of 40.7 percent was second all-time at the school. He was a huge driver of the rebirth of the Virginia program. Akil Mitchell was one of the best defensive players in the ACC over the course of his career. Mitchell was a rebounding machine for the Cavs, and his 798 career rebounds puts him seventh on the all-time list at Virginia. Both Harris and Mitchell actually had a reduced role in their senior seasons, but the leadership they provided will be hard to replace.
B.J. Stith played at prep powerhouse Oak Hill Academy and helped them go 41-1 last year. B.J.'s father, Bryant, is Virginia's all-time leading scorer. It doesn't hurt to have some impressive bloodlines. Speaking of impressive bloodlines, Isaiah Wilkins is the son of former NBA star Dominique Wilkins. Wilkins needs to grow into his body a bit, but his upside is tremendous. Marial Shayok is a good outside shooter who should help Virginia at some point. He is recovering from an injury, so he might not get much time early on.
2014 Virginia Backcourt
London Perrantes started 33 games and led the team in assists as a freshman. Perrantes had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.5, which was sixth-best in the nation. Any time you see a freshman with that kind of ball control at the point guard spot, you know you have a special player. Bennett doesn't want him to change his game too much, but he thinks Perrantes should be a little more assertive offensively as he progresses in his game. Malcolm Brogdon had to sit out the entire 2012-13 season, and his return last year was one of the keys to Virginia's success. Brogdon is a strong shooting guard who rebounds well. Bennett calls him a "power guard." He shot 88 percent from the free throw line, and that was a big weapon late in games. He is often the go-to guy for Virginia in crunch time. Devon Hall and Evan Nolte will do a good job backing up in the backcourt. Virginia is loaded with smart players who understand the system.
2014 Virginia Frontcourt
Mike Tobey will be relied on much more heavily at the center spot this year. Tobey has shown flashes as a low-post scoring threat, but the Cavs need him as their primary scorer in the post this year. Anthony Gill is most likely to start at the power forward spot. Gill gives the team a really physical guy who defends well in the post. Gill is aggressive in the paint, and he led the team in free throw attempts last year. Darion Atkins will get plenty of time as well. Atkins is the team's lone scholarship senior. He is the guy the coaching staff thinks could pick up some of Mitchell's lost production. Justin Anderson should start on the wing, and his athleticism allows Virginia to play at a slightly faster tempo when he is in the game. The frontcourt is good, but they aren't quite as deep as they have been in recent years.
2014 Virginia Futures Odds
Virginia is getting some respect, but it's probably not the type of respect that a normal ACC champion from the previous year would get. Bookmaker lists Virginia at +3,699 to win the NCAA Tournament. Sportsbook.ag has the Cavaliers listed at +3,500.
2014 Virginia Cavaliers Predictions & NCAA Basketball Picks
Bennett is one of those coaches you need to be really careful betting against. Virginia's backcourt is among the best in the country. They will take care of the basketball and play great defense. The frontcourt is slightly limited, especially on the offensive end. The Cavaliers don't quite have the talent to beat the best teams consistently, but they should cover the number more often than not.
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