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2016-2017 Record: 23-11 (11-7 ACC) w/ loss to Florida in NCAA Tournament third round
Head Coach: Tony Bennett (9th season)
Much like Pitt, Virginia will start the 2017 season without its two top scorers from a season ago following the graduation of London Perrantes — a historically good player for the Hoos — and the transfer of Marial Shayok to Iowa State. The difference, however, is that UVA employs arguably the best coach in all of college basketball in Tony Bennett. He has built a national power in Charlottesville, compiling a 188-83 overall record that only gets more impressive when you consider that he went a combined 31-31 over his first two seasons while playing with his predecessor’s players. The simple fact is that teams that play fundamentally-sound, defensively-minded basketball like UVA under Bennett are some of the most consistent in all of college basketball. That likely won’t change this time around, as Bennett’s former top-10 recruiting class from two years back continues to mature.
Yes, it’s true — UVA basketball committed mass atrocities against Brian Gregory-coached Georgia Tech teams. Tech defeated the Hoos in Gregory’s last season, but the prior two games saw the Jackets put up 28 and 45 points in total. Not even Josh Pastner could get his offense humming against the then-No. 16 Cavaliers, dropping just 49 against the eventual NCAA Tournament participant. Year two of Pastner’s era should bring with it an even more fluid offense, but there’s not much to do when UVA’s defense comes out on fire.
Bennett’s most recent recruiting class barely cracked the top-100 nationally, but the amount of talent remaining from previous cycles figures to more than make up for it. His team isn’t garnering any top-25 love as the season approaches and likely won’t challenge the likes of Duke and other top teams, but Bennett is nothing if not consistent as a coach. This one qualifies as winnable for the Jackets, particularly at home, but don’t expect too much against a tough, quality opponent.