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Virginia Basketball Season Countdown: Should UVA be ranked in the top 25?

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Stats on returning and incoming players suggest the Hoos should still be ranked.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Florida vs Virginia Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With 22 days left until the Virginia Cavaliers basketball kick off the season, many fans are wondering whether the Hoos will be ranked in the AP top 25 when the season starts. Whether fans “should care” about that sort of thing or not is a debate for another day, but UVA has been ranked in the AP top 25 for 63 consecutive weeks, dating back to February 3rd, 2014. Only Kansas, Arizona, and Villanova have longer active streaks. The coaches poll came out and the Hoos were ranked 27th. After an eventful offseason, should Virginia continue to be ranked once the AP poll comes out?

The main critique college basketball writers and voters have with this season’s version of UVA basketball is that they lost too many players in the offseason. While London Perrantes was a steady hand for four years that will be sorely missed, the trio of transfers are not as painful as it seems. While we wish Marial Shayok, Darius Thompson, and Jarred Reuter all the best at their new schools, there were signs that their departure will not have as great an impact as the media suggests. Most players in the Tony Bennett era improved their shooting percentages in their junior seasons. Among the notable players below, Thompson and Shayok were the only ones that regressed.

Player FG% 2PT% 3PT%
Player FG% 2PT% 3PT%
Darius Thompson -9% -11% -4%
Marial Shayok -5% -4% -11%
Malcolm Brogdon 1% 3% -3%
Joe Harris 3% 1% 5%
Mike Tobey 3% 3%
Devon Hall 4% 2% 4%
Isaiah Wilkins 4% 3%
Akil Mitchell 4% 4%
Justin Anderson 6% -1% 16%
London Perrantes 9% -2% 17%

In UVA’s biggest win of the season, the blowout victory over eventual champion North Carolina, the trio of transfers only played a combined 20 minutes and scored zero points on 0/6 shooting. 72% of the minutes and 75% of the points scored by Virginia in that upset return this year.

In fact, the Cavaliers return a substantial amount of players and experience. 59% of Virginia’s minutes played last season return, as well as 52% of their points. When looking at the rest of the ACC below, the Hoos return more minutes than every team except Miami and Wake Forest.

School Points Minutes
School Points Minutes
Miami (FL) 68% 68%
Wake Forest 54% 59%
Virginia 52% 59%
Notre Dame 58% 58%
Georgia Tech 71% 57%
Virginia Tech 49% 56%
Clemson 53% 55%
Louisville 52% 54%
Boston College 68% 54%
North Carolina State 39% 45%
North Carolina 35% 43%
Florida State 38% 41%
Syracuse 22% 25%
Duke 20% 19%
Pittsburgh 7% 10%

The teams at the bottom of this list would regress with this much turnover, but teams like Duke and UNC just reload with top recruits, which is the next factor to look at.

The most overlooked part of UVA’s upcoming season are DeAndre Hunter and Jay Huff. In order to evaluate how teams are going to fill in those missing minutes, non-savvy writers would just look at the most recent recruiting class. However, both Hunter and Huff redshirted last year and were not part of this year’s recruiting class, but were top #75 ESPN recruits. Teamed up with Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, and Mamadi Diakite, this year will be the first time in the Tony Bennett era that the roster will feature five top 75 recruits.

Looking at the rest of the ACC, only six teams have more four-star recruits on the roster than Virginia and only six have more three-stars. Verbal Commits does a composite recruiting star roster ranking and UVA’s roster comes in 7th in the ACC and 30th in the country. 30th in the country does not sound as impressive since it is not in the top 25, but that mark is still higher than 11 other teams on the coaches poll.

Whether you look at returning experience or incoming talent, the Hoos deserve to continue to be ranked in the top 25.