Defense wins championships, of course.
But Mike Scott (15.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.7 apg) and the University of Virginia basketball team probably don't yet have their sights set quite that high. Instead, the Cavaliers are just quietly dismantling teams with suffocating defense and hoping that defense can win them a spot in the Top 25.
UVA has amassed a 9-1 record through their first ten games. Their lone loss came to Texas Christian, whose record stands at 7-3. Their nine wins include a 13-point win over No. 20 Michigan, a 20-point win against 7-3 George Mason and tonight's 13-point win over the 6-3 Oregon Ducks.
Over these ten games, the Cavs have allowed a Division I second-best 48.5 points per game, allowing more points per game than only the No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers.
This has allowed them to acquire the nation's 14th best average scoring margin per game (18.6), while owning only the 118th best scoring offense. Virginia has not allowed over 58 points in any game this season and have only once scored more than 75 points.
They haven't needed to.
So what makes them so good?
It's hard to pinpoint. The Cavaliers are not in the top 50 in the nation in steals, blocks or rebounds. They don't have any individual players that rank near the top of the nation in these categories.
The answer is somewhat nebulous.
Virginia just doesn't allow good shots.
Opponents shoot 37.2 percent against them. They shoot 25.5 percent from 3-point range against them. And this isn't because these teams are terrible shooters. No. 20 Michigan, who shoots 49 percent on the year, shot 44 percent against the Cavaliers. Tonight, the Oregon Ducks shot 43 percent against Virginia, compared to their season percentage, 47 percent.
So far, the Cavaliers' season has been marked by solid wins and stifling defense. Now that they have nine wins, it's time to give them Top 25 consideration. Tonight's win at Oregon pushed them over the edge.