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State of the Program - Men’s Basketball

Spoiler: it’s good.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-National Championship-Virginia vs Texas Tech Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

It’s safe to say that coming off the 2018-19 season, the state of the Virginia Basketball program is very good. The 2019 Cavaliers won the program’s first ever National Championship, capping off a thrilling six-game stretch with an 85-77 overtime win against Texas Tech.

It was the cherry on top of an incredible season that came on the heels of a season that ended abruptly with a historic loss to UMBC. Virginia’s victory validated Tony Bennett’s style of coaching and ability to “win the big one”.

Wins over Wisconsin, Maryland, and VCU highlighted the non-conference portion of the schedule. Once again Virginia was a force to be reckoned with in the ACC. The 2018-19 season is one that will be remembered for a very, very long time.

Five Year Results

UVA Men’s Basketball Five Year Results

Year Record ACC Record; Rank Postseason Result
Year Record ACC Record; Rank Postseason Result
2018-2019 35-3 16-2; 1st NCAA CHAMPIONS
2017-2018 31-3 17-1; 1st, ACCT Champs NCAA First Round
2016-2017 23-11 11-7; 5th NCAA Second Round
2015-2016 29-8 13-5; 2nd NCAA Elite Eight
2014-2015 30-4 16-2;1st NCAA Second Round

2019 Recap

2019 Stars: Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, De’Andre Hunter, Mamadi Diakite, Kihei Clark, Braxton Key, Jack Salt

Where do we start. For the second straight season, the Cavaliers finished with just three losses. In 2018-19, both regular season losses came at the hands of No. 1 pick Zion Williamson and the Duke Blue Devils, and Virginia fell to Florida State in the ACC tournament semifinals. That’s it. Those are all the losses.

Virginia finished the season at No. 1 in KenPom with a top-5 finish in defense (No. 5) and offense (No. 2). That’s right, the Tony Bennett led Cavaliers finished with a more efficient offense in 2018-19 than defense. The Cavaliers started 16-0 before the loss at Duke, rattled off four straight wins before the second loss, and finished the regular season on an eight-game win streak.

Guy (15.4 points), Hunter (15.2), and Jerome (13.6) led the team in points per game, as the Hoos used a balance attack. That trio helped lead the Cavaliers to a 35-3 overall record and a 16-2 mark in the ACC. Virginia finished tied with North Carolina for first atop the ACC standings and earned the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament thanks to a road win in Chapel Hill.

As the No. 1 seed in the midwest, Virginia took down No. 16 Gardner-Webb (in a not-at-all exciting game of course), No. 9 Oklahoma (the actual only low-stress game of the tournament), No. 12 Oregon (a defensive slugfest), No. 3 Purdue (THAT GAME), No. 5 Auburn (can you say clutch), and No. 3 Texas Tech (sure, OT, why not) to clinch the title.

2020 Outlook

Key Returners: Kihei Clark, Mamadi Diakite, Braxton Key, Jay Huff

The 2019-20 squad is going to have a whole new look. The departure of fifth year captain Jack Salt to graduation and the Big Three to the NBA Draft leaves the Cavaliers depleted in experience and known superstars. On top of those four, Marco Anthony transferred to Utah State and Frankie Badocchi parted ways with the program for personal reasons.

Virginia’s cupboard isn’t bare, however. Clark returns to run the point, and the duo of Diakite and Huff present a formidable front court. Key will be huge — on both sides of the ball — and Virginia will have the ability to add 7-footer Francisco Caffaro to the mix.

The power this season has shifted from the back court to the front court, and Clark will have to get help from juco transfer Tomas Woldetensae, first year Casey Morsell, and second year Kody Stattmann.

Expectations will be lower than the recent seasons as the Hoos experienced dramatic turnover, but if there’s anyone Virginia fans can trust to get things ready, it’s Tony Bennett. Who will step up to fill the scoring void left by the big three? Will first year Kadin Shedrick redshirt? Is it time for Jay Huff have a breakout season?

Beyond the 2020 season, things continue to look positive for the Cavaliers as Virginia currently has the No. 4 recruiting class in the country (according to Rivals) with Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Reese Beekman, and Carson McCorkle all committed.