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Virginia is bad for college basketball? Here's how ESPN got it wrong

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Because this MYTH just won't go away

A boring slam dunk from Justin Anderson
A boring slam dunk from Justin Anderson
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Between late Monday evening and Tuesday morning, UVa basketball found itself under attack once again. Somebody from ESPN and somebody that nobody has ever heard of from USA Today vomited articles onto the internet claiming that Virginia's style of play is bad for the game of basketball. Rather than directing you to those links and giving the drive-by "journalists" any more hits, we thought that we would create a one-stop-shop dedicated to busting their myths about the second-ranked Wahoos.

Myth: Virginia is the first school to play this style of basketball.

Fact: Far from it. Wisconsin has built a national powerhouse under both Dick Bennett and Bo Ryan playing the half-court game. In 2010 and 2011, Butler became the darlings of college basketball, using a deliberate style on offense and suffocating half-court defense to reach back-to-back national title games; we didn't hear any complaints then.

Michigan State, Arizona, and Syracuse have built their programs with defense-first identities, yet they're all hailed as being some of college basketball's elite.

Per the Daily Press' David Teel, last year's Syracuse team that started 25-0 averaged just 1.6 more points per game than Virginia has so far this season (and 0.01 fewer per possession).

Myth: Virginia sits on the ball on offense and just bleeds the clock.

Fact: Virginia is number 19 in the country in offensive efficiency (only falling out of the top five during their recent Anderson-less slump) and in the top five in the ACC for assists per game. Plenty of fun stuff happening on offense if you actually watch.

UVA's possessions are, on average, 0.1 seconds shorter than Wisconsin's; the Badgers have the most efficient offense in the league. (And the Hoos get more offensive rebounds and draw fewer fouls, which skews their possessions longer.)

Myth: Kentucky is exciting because of the way they play, but Virginia is not.

Fact: During conference play, UVa takes an average of 51.77 shots per game, while Kentucky checks in at 52.85. Not a huge difference there. And the teams are virtually tied with effective field goal percentages of 51%.

On Tuesday night, Kentucky and their amazing up-and-down style of basketball scored just five more points against Tennessee (14-11, 6-7 SEC) than Virginia did against Pittsburgh (17-10, 6-7 ACC). UVa's outing against Pitt had the drive-bys going crazy, but we haven't seen a word written about how Kentucky is bad for basketball.

Myth: Nobody is going to want to tune in to watch this kind of basketball.

Fact: UVa's tilt with Duke on January 31 was viewed by 3.5 million people, while 1.7 million tuned into the NBA game that immediately followed on ESPN. That UVA-Duke showdown was actually the second-most viewed college basketball game on ESPN this season, edged by .01 million by Kentucky-Louisville.

Using another basis of comparison, per Sports Media Watch, the UVA-Louisville game drew 2.1 million viewers, while Duke's matchup with the Cardinals was watched by 2.2 million.

Regardless of whether some individuals find UVA to be "boring" (everyone has their own personal tastes), there is no evidence that belief is held by the population as a whole. Americans tend  to watch UVA basketball at least as often as they do other top-five teams.

Myth: We need a 30-second shot clock. That will change the game and throw UVa out of its element.

Fact: Teams have a hard enough time finding a good shot on UVa with a 35-second clock. You really want to give them five fewer seconds to find a good shot against this defense? Good luck. Whether a 30-second clock or a 35-second clock is better for the game as a whole is up for debate, but if we're looking at a shorter shot clock to solve "the UVa problem," certainly causing teams to chuck the ball before the buzzer sounds will make for sloppier, not better, basketball.

Myth: Virginia's style is putting people to sleep.

Fact: UVa is getting everybody's attention. Ask Rick Pitino how he felt about Virginia basketball after last Saturday's game. The Hall of Famer had glowing respect for UVa's style, John Paul Jones Arena, and everything that the Hoos were doing on both sides of the court.

Following the loss to Virginia, Pitno noted, "Their defense is awesome. I won't take anything away from them, but our offense was ridiculous. We just didn't run our sets. We didn't move the ball. If you don't do that you're going to make Virginia look like the best defensive team in the history of the game. They're terrific. I love their team, I love what they do, but we fed right into the monster and the crowd."

Pitino-along with Roy Williams and Coach K-have been singing UVa's praises all season long. We'll take what a trio of Hall of Famers have to say over the opinions of some people that never have and will never step on a college basketball court.

Here's the deal: these drive-by journalists have a lot of teams to keep track of. They have not been watching every UVa game.

You have seen the second-ranked Wahoos bring it night in and night out. You have witnessed your team overcome poor shooting performances and still come out on top. And you have watched the defending ACC Champs keep winning even without one of their best players.

Take a step back and look at what Virginia has done over the last four years.

  • 99 wins

  • Two (soon to be 3) NCAA tournament berths

  • ACC regular season and tournament title

  • 21-game home winning streak

  • Number one seed in the NCAA Tournament

  • Longest road winning streak in the country

  • Produced two NBA players

There is nothing boring about any of that. All of the above was accomplished without a single McDonald's All-American or anything close to an NCAA violation.

Tony Bennett has built something special here, and he has done it the right way. He has assembled a team full of quality young men both on and off the court. The Wahoos are unselfish, they play as a team, they are fundamentally sound, and they have shown toughness and resolve in some pretty dicey situations over the years.

Virginia is not bad for the game of basketball. In fact, the Hoos represent everything that is right about college hoops.

UVa fans, you know that your team is awesome. Now that we have debunked all of their myths, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. And many more #BoringUVABball plays like these: