The No. 1 Blue Devils were without Cam Reddish, and Tre Jones missed most of the game. But could we see a new No 1. team in the next AP Poll?
Maybe. But regardless, here’s what Monday and Tuesday’s outcomes mean in the bigger picture.
Virginia should be considered the favorite to win the ACC
Virginia Tech was 14-1 coming into Tuesday night’s game, and Virginia ran all over the Hokies. It was never a fair fight. The Hoos outscored Tech 44-22 in the first half and coasted in the second to an 81-59 win. They drained 13-of-24 3-pointers.
Admittedly, this has more to do with Duke’s loss of Jones than its loss to Syracuse. If Jones misses significant time (and it appears he might), it’s fair to slot Virginia ahead of the Blue Devils in the ACC. He’s the glue that holds the team together. Duke will still win a bunch without him, but things won’t run as smoothly. And Virginia has played about as well as a team can play through mid January. The gap wasn’t that big to begin with.
The outcome of Saturday’s game will have a lot to do with how we perceive the ACC race. But without Jones, Virginia looks like the more complete team.
Both schools are on track to earn NCAA tournament 1-seeds
Virginia and Tennessee are a combined 31-1. Both teams have top 20 offenses and defenses, per KenPom. The best college basketball teams are balanced, and the Cavaliers and Volunteers certainly fit that description.
Tennessee had four players score at least 17 points on Tuesday night, while Virginia has a legitimate big three in De’Andre Hunter, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome. You can’t really nitpick either group. The worst thing about both of them is their lack of NCAA tournament success last year. That will be a talking point as Selection Sunday nears, but it doesn’t take away from what they’ve done thus far.
that’s all folks pic.twitter.com/RhqccSdBdv
— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) January 16, 2019
Virginia and Tennessee will likely both earn 1-seeds in the 2019 tournament.
We need to appreciate consistency
It’s easy to get caught up in miraculous individual performances, big name programs and whatnot. That’s all fine. But consistency is hard to achieve in this sport, perhaps more than any other. And Virginia and Tennessee have done so thus far.
That 31-1 combined mark speaks for itself. But there’s more to it; it’s not as if Tennessee or Virginia have had any close calls lately. The Volunteers’ last close game was a three-point win against Gonzaga, and any win over Gonzaga is something to boast about. VCU came within eight points of beating Virginia on Dec. 9, and that was the last time a school finished within single-digits of the Hoos.
These teams have star players to appreciate, even if they won’t go in the top five of the NBA Draft. But most importantly, they are well-oiled machines. Even the best schools usually struggle on a random January Tuesday night.
Not these two, lately. We can’t overstate how impressive Virginia and Tennessee have been in 2018-19.