An interesting statistical tidbit was shared by TV color commentator Jason Williams during the Pitt-Virginia game on Super Bowl Sunday. It certainly sounded great when repeated out of context.
Predictably both the Panthers and Cavaliers played fierce, physical defense, with every shot, let alone every basket, a slog. The score was 23-21 in favor of homestanding Pitt at halftime, presaging a low-scoring dribble to the finish. Sure enough, UVa came out on top, 48-45.
Tony Bennett's club leads the ACC in scoring defense. Following its win at Pitt, Virginia is holding opponents to 55.5 points per game. Imposing a low scoring output on Jamie Dixon's squad was more impressive than reputation might suggest - PU entered the game with the league's No. 2 scoring offense (75.8 point-average).
Apropos the pace, Williams repeated a note that appeared in the Chicago Tribune when Virginia played at Notre Dame: In five seasons under Bennett, the Cavs were 31-2 when holding opponents under 50 points. Then they held Pitt to 45.
Sounds impressive, and it is.
But not so much as it might seem.
The stat means that, in 151 games under Bennett, the Wahoos held opponents under 50 points in more than one of five outings (22.5 percent). This year the school's record is 7-1 in those contests.
Then again, ACC teams have held opponents under 50 points a total of 33 times during the 2014 season. League squads are 30-3 in those circumstances, virtually identical to UVA's 32-2 mark.
So it may be more significant that Virginia held so many opponents under 50 than that it wins those games. Even this distinction is not exclusive to Bennett's program. Clemson, the ACC's No. 2 team in scoring defense (55.8), has held six opponents below 50 this year. The Tigers are 6-0 when that happens.
During Brad Brownell's four seasons at Clemson, a span of 116 games, the Tigers have held 24 teams under 50 points. That's 20.7 percent. Their record in such outings: 22-2.
|WHEN LESS IS MORE
ACC Records In 2014 Season When Holding
Opponents Under 50 Points, Through Feb. 2
|School||W/L Under 50||W/L In ACC