Virginia is still the defending NCAA Tournament champion, given that there was no tourney last season.
But the Cavaliers are looking like anything but tournament ready. Quite the opposite, actually. They have lost three straight, capped by Wednesday’s 68-61 defeat vs. NC State.
Surprisingly, Virginia’s issues seem to be highlighted by struggles on defense — typically a staple under coach Tony Bennett. As noted by ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, “Florida State, Duke and NC State all scored at least 1.08 points per possession against the Cavaliers, a number they allowed just four times all of last season.”
Things are only slightly better at the other end, as the Cavaliers (15-6, 11-4 ACC) have suddenly looked a bit disjointed offensively.
But of course, Bennett is focusing on the defense first and foremost.
“We haven’t become gritty enough or tough enough to lean on our defense to hold us in there,” he told reporters. “We did it a couple times this year, but not consistently enough.”