Plenty of attention is paid to Virginia’s defense, and rightly so. The Cavaliers pace the ACC in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense, their offensive suppression among the most effective in conference history.
UVa also enjoys the second-best scoring margin in the ACC at +15.0 points per game, trailing only Duke, despite averaging a modest 67.7 points through mid-February.
A key to that offensive output is .769 free throw accuracy, ninth-best in league history. That’s better than three of every four free throws converted, yielding 10 points per game for the Cavaliers through 26 outings.
Those 10 points are actually the smallest portion for any team in the ACC. Even Miami, the league’s worst foul shooting team, derives 12 points per game at the line. But when your scoring is low, as is Virginia’s (13th in the ACC), stats revealing offensive production can be misleading.
Interestingly, for all the talk about contemporary players being weak on fundamentals and indifferent to practicing skills, Virginia is the third team in the last 11 seasons that stands among the ACC’s top 10 historically in free throw percentage.
Half of the top 10 team performances at the line since 1954 have come in the past 16 years. Last season Notre Dame not only led the nation in foul shooting acumen, but had the best conversion rate in ACC history.
Four of the top nine squads in free throw percentage prior to this year reached the ACC Tournament final – Duke in 1978, North Carolina in 1984, NC State in 2003 and Notre Dame in 2017. Only the Blue Devils became league champs – and went on to the NCAA championship game.
Duke teams also dumped the other three ace foul-shooting units in the ACC final.
|HAVING A FOUL BALL
(2018 Games Through Feb. 17)