Virginia’s Egalitarian Excellence Makes Their “Ugly” Basketball Pretty

We’ve long known that preseason college basketball polls and rankings are about as useless and worthless as bitcoin. 

And now we have further proof thanks to the best team in the country, the 31-2 and No. 1 ranked Virginia Cavaliers, who walked out of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center with a 71-63 win over No.12 North Carolina in the ACC Tournament championship game.

This is the same U.Va squad that was picked to finish sixth or below in the ACC before the season tipped off. The same team that didn’t crack the preseason Top 25. The same team that people have described for years as “ugly” and “boring.”

UNC vs. Virginia Hype Video | New York Life ACC Tournament Championship 2018

UNC vs. Virginia Hype Video | New York Life ACC Tournament Championship 2018

Ugly? Boring?

If you’ve ever uttered those words about head coach Tony Bennett’s Virginia teams, please do us all a favor and never-ever-ever utter another word about basketball again. 

Because the beauty of the college game, like Busta Rhymes said in the Scenario remix, is about many styles, many styles. And who in their right mind can criticize a style that consistently wins?

In his nine years at the Cavaliers helm, Bennett has built one of the most successful programs in the country. The blueprint, foundation and brick-and-mortar is a precise team of surgical effectiveness that is the byproduct of a meticulous, efficient offense and a tenacious, suffocating and historically great defense. 

They might not be household names to casual hoops fans, but hardcore hoops junkies understand that Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, De’Andre Hunter, Isaiah Wilkins, Mamadi Diakite, Devon Hall and the rest of Virginia’s roster form a collective brilliance that is much bigger than the individual sum of their respective parts.

North Carolina vs. Virginia ACC Basketball Tournament Highlights (2018)

North Carolina vs. Virginia: 4 Cavaliers scored in double figures as UVA won its third-ever ACC Tournament Championship, 71-63 over the 6th-seeded Tar Heels. Kyle Guy led the Hoos with 16 points in the title game. Luke Maye scored a game-high 20 points for UNC in the loss.

Bennett’s squad just capped off one of the most successful seasons in the history of ACC basketball by going 20-1 in the league this year en route to both the regular season and tournament championships.

Guy, the 6-foot-2 sophomore sharpshooting guard from Indianapolis and the tournament MVP, scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half of Saturday night’s win over the Tar Heels. Hall, a fifth-year senior and graduate student who represents the anti-thesis of everyone thinking college ball revolves around one-and-done’s, added 15 points, five rebounds and four assists. Jerome, as he’s prone to do, left his fingerprints all over the tone of the game with 12 points, six assists and six rebounds. 

Virginia left no doubt that they’ll be the NCAA Tournament’s top overall seed.

“This is one of the most connected groups I’ve ever coached,” Bennett said.

The Cavaliers put a Kung-Fu grip held on North Carolina’s offense, shutting them out for a five-minute stretch late in the second half. Once they took a 58-49 lead with Hunter, the redshirt freshman from Philadelphia who will be a breakout star on the college hoops scene next year, hitting his baseline fadeaway with 3:32 left, it was pretty much a wrap.

Virginia is undoubtedly the country’s best defensive team. But just because they take their time on offense does not make them boring. 

Their philosophy is simple, if not aesthetically pleasing to folks weaned on the breast milk of SportsCenter highlights.

The Virginia Cavaliers Are 2018 ACC Champions | The Path To A Title

The Virginia Cavaliers are 2018 ACC Tournament champions after outlasting North Carolina in Saturday night’s final, 71-63. From Thursday-to-Saturday, Hoos fans can now relive the best moments from a crazy week in Brooklyn. This is Virginia’s “Path to a Title.”

They simply move the ball on offense and take the best shot possible, while funneling the defensive action towards help. They make opponents struggle against a hungry, amoeba-like unit that forces them to consistently take difficult, contested shots.

Basketball is really a simple game, but most players and coaches make it difficult.

You can call it ugly or you can call it boring. But in Charlottesville, Virginia, they call it winning. 

As far as what we should be celebrating in the college game, isn’t that what it’s really all about?

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