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Virginia’s Defense Cools off Oklahoma in Historic Fashion

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Virginia vs Oklahoma Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

While watching the Virginia Cavaliers dismantle the Oklahoma Sooners 63-51 Sunday night, I couldn’t help but think this Oklahoma team wasn’t the same one who obliterated Ole Miss 95-72 on Friday afternoon. But then I remembered that Virginia’s defense has a tendency to do that to teams. So, when I didn’t hear anything about the 44 point swing from Friday to Sunday being a record, or at the very least impressive, I decided to looking into it. And here’s what I found.

Going back through old brackets, I noted the highest point total a team scored in a win, then subtracted the points scored when that team was eventually eliminated. I had to go back 20 years to the 1999 tournament to find an instance where a team’s gap between points scored in a win and points scored in a loss for the opening weekend was higher than the 44 point differential the Hoos inflicted on the Sooners. It was Indiana in 1999 who scored 108 in a round one victory over George Washington only to turn around and score 61 in a second round loss to St. Johns. Since 2000, here are the largest first round point differentials:

First Weekend Point Differential (since 2000)

Year Team Rd 1 W Rd 1 Opponent Rd 2 L Rd 2 Opponent Differential
Year Team Rd 1 W Rd 1 Opponent Rd 2 L Rd 2 Opponent Differential
2019 Oklahoma 95 Ole Miss 51 Virginia 44
2016 Middle Tennessee 90 Michigan State 50 Syracuse 40
2003 Florida 85 Sam Houston State 46 Michigan State 39
2005 Mississippi State 93 Stanford 55 Duke 38
2017 Virginia 76 UNC Wilmington 39 Florida 37
2019 Minnesota 86 Louisville 50 Michigan State 36
2013 VCU 88 Akron 53 Michigan 35
2000 Kentucky 85 St. Bonaventure 50 Syracuse 35
2019 Buffalo 91 Arizona State 58 Texas Tech 33
2014 Pittsburgh 77 Colorado 45 Florida 32
2014 Saint Louis 83 NC State 51 Louisville 32
2018 UMBC 74 Virginia 43 Kansas State 31

You’ll notice Virginia actually is involved in three of these occurrences. In addition to Sunday, the 2017 Cavaliers scored 76 points in a win over UNC-Wilmington and then fall 65-39 to Florida just two days later. Then last season, Virginia factored into UMBC’s appearance on this chart when the Hoos allowed the Retrievers to score 74 only for UMBC to turn around and only muster 43 against Kansas State.

If you expand this list to include wins and losses at any point in the tournament (not limited to first weekend), Virginia’s performance against Oklahoma is still historic ranking in the top five.

NCAA Tournament Win-Loss Point Differential (since 2000)

Year Team Win Opponent Win Loss Opponent Loss Differential Notes
Year Team Win Opponent Win Loss Opponent Loss Differential Notes
2007 Kansas 107 Niagara 55 UCLA 52 First Round Win, Elite Eight Loss
2006 Memphis 94 Oral Roberts 45 UCLA 49 First Round Win, Elite Eight Loss
2016 Kansas 105 Austin Peay 59 Villanova 46 First Round Win, Elite Eight Loss
2012 Michigan State 89 LIU Brooklyn 44 Louisville 45 First Round Win, Sweet 16 Loss
2019 Oklahoma 95 Ole Miss 51 Virginia 44
2014 Cal Poly 81 Texas Southern 37 Wichita State 44 Play In Game Win, First Round Loss
2017 Baylor 91 New Mexico State 50 South Carolina 41 First Round Win, Sweet 16 Loss
2017 Kansas 100 UC Davis 60 Oregon 40 First Round Win, Elite Eight Loss
2016 Middle Tennessee State 90 Michigan State 50 Syracuse 40

Kansas has the dubious honor of showing up on this list three times as they’ve made a history of beating up on 16-seeds only to falter in impressive fashion once the Final Four is on the line.

While Virginia fans have become accustomed to historic defenses performance, Sunday night was still pretty cool. To see a team score with so much ease in one game, only to be stymied by the pack line is something that will never get old for fans.