ACC Basketball: 2015-2016 Virginia Cavaliers Season Preview

Virginia Cavaliers


30-4 (16-2 ACC) in 2014-2015


Key Returners

  • G Malcolm Brogdon
  • F Anthony Gill
  • G London Perrantes
  • C Mike Tobey


  • F Justin Anderson (entered NBA Draft, selected 21st by the Dallas Mavericks)
  • F Darion Atkins (graduated)


  • F Jarred Reuter, 4-star recruit (ranked #145 in ESPN Recruiting rankings for 2015)
  • F Austin Nichols (must sit out a year after transferring from Memphis)
  • F Mamadi Diakite, 4-star recruit (redshirting this season)




Another year and another ACC Tournament bid last season for Virginia under coach Tony Bennett. Defense has been a consistent driving force behind the return to college basketball prominence for the Cavaliers, as the pack-line system has disrupted opponents across the ACC and across the country. After rolling to their second straight regular season title last season with a 16-2 conference record, things got rough for the ‘Hoos late in the season after the injury to star forward Justin Anderson. Anderson, who ended up returning to the team in the Big Dance, never seemed to be the same after the injury, which ultimately led to the Cavaliers getting bounced in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Michigan State. Their loss to the Spartans undoubtedly left a bad taste in their mouths, as it was the second straight season the team lost a tourney game to Tom Izzo’s Spartans.

With an entire off-season to try to recuperate, Virginia comes into the new season ranked in the AP as number six in the country. With forwards Anthony Gill and Justin Anderson as the only two players who have departed, the Cavaliers return a veteran core, as well as some solid recruits to this year’s team. Junior guard London Perrantes is back in the fold at the point, with Pre-Season All-American wing Malcolm Brogdon joining him on the perimeter. Brogdon will be tasked with a greater offensive load this season than in years past, in addition to continuing his stout defense on the other end of the floor. Marial Shayok will play a considerable amount in the wing position that Justin Anderson vacated, and Mike Tobey will bring a veteran presence down low defensively to spell redshirt freshman big man Jack Salt.

As far as recruiting is concerned, the ‘Hoos have put themselves in position to continue their solid momentum on the court for years to come. Forward Jarred Reuter could be thrust into a considerable role this season at forward, as the #145 recruit in the ESPN 150 will be asked to play early in his career due to attrition at the position. Another talented forward, Mamadi Diakite, will be a very good player for the team down the line, but will be redshirted this season. Additionally, the ‘Hoos welcome one transfer, forward Austin Nichols, from Memphis, but he will be forced to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules.


Schedule and Prediction


The Cavaliers play four very intriguing games in the non-conference schedule that will test them early on prior to ACC play. The first is against a frequent tournament team in George Washington; a game which will fly under the radar a bit nationally. The Colonials always seem to be at their best against some of the nation’s top teams, so the ‘Hoos will have to be on upset alert in their second game of the season. After George Washington, the Cavaliers will head on the road to play against Ohio State in Columbus. Although Ohio State is unranked heading into the season, Thad Matta’s young squad is always well-coached and could provide a good challenge for the ‘Hoos. These two games are before back-to-back match-ups against #11 Villanova and #14 California at home. If the Cavaliers can win those two games in a row, it will provide them a good springboard into their conference schedule, where their schedule is actually quite soft by ACC standards. Virginia plays only three conference opponents who are ranked in the Pre-Season AP Top 25 (#19 Notre Dame, #1 North Carolina, #5 Duke), and they get two out of the three at home, as they welcome Notre Dame and North Carolina to the John Paul Jones Arena, while heading on the road to play Coach K and the Blue Devils.

All in all, Virginia is ranked #6 in the country for a reason. With the defense that they play and the ability of the coaching staff to put the team in the best position possible to win, it is hard to imagine the Cavaliers not being in the mix for another ACC Championship this season. If the ‘Hoos can manufacture a bit more offense to go with their elite defense, Virginia will be in great position to take the next step in the NCAA Tournament in 2015.

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