Basketball observers were shocked a few weeks back when Virginia traveled to Clemson, a tough place to play, and dismantled the Tigers 85-50 in a meeting of top-25 ACC teams.
Dismantled may be an understatement. Perhaps dismembered is more apt.
The 35-point result on Jan. 16 came after Clemson built a 9-1 season record and, with a No. 12 ranking, was in the rare position of topping all ACC teams in the AP poll. Burnishing its standing, Brad Brownell’s squad entered the game as the league leader in fewest points allowed per outing.
But it was Clemson that was thoroughly stifled, scoring 17 in the opening half and never pulling close. Coming off a COVID-induced 11-day layoff, the Tigers hit .404 from the floor compared to .607 for the Cavaliers. During one stretch in the second half, UVa hit nine straight 3-pointers.
Shocking as the outcome was, the decisive margin wasn’t all that rare in meetings involving ranked ACC clubs.
In fact, less than a month earlier Louisville played at Wisconsin and, in a delayed conclusion to the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, lost by a whopping 37 points, 85-48.
The result, lost in the shuffle of holiday happenings, was the widest margin in a meeting of top 25 clubs involving an ACC member in the past decade, and the most lopsided L for UL since 1956.
That was the fifth time since 2012 a clash including a ranked ACC team was decided by at least 30 points, twice each involving Clemson or Duke.
Only two seasons ago Duke embarrassed Kentucky by 34 points in a matchup of top-five squads in the 2018-19 season opener at Indianapolis. RJ Barrett led the way for the Blue Devils with 33 points.
During the 2018 NCAA tournament, Clemson triumphed by 31 over Auburn in a tangle of Tigers, 84-53. And Duke took apart Notre Dame 80-50 in a battle of top-10 ACC teams in 2015 at Cameron Indoor Stadium, where visitors can easily find matters getting out of hand.
In all, 12 meetings among ranked teams involving at least one ACC member were decided by 24 or more points since 2012. Half of those lopsided contests were intra-conference, a pair involving UVa stomping Clemson.
Four of 12 embarrassing stumbles in top-25 matchups over the past decade included North Carolina, twice as a winner (versus Miami and Virginia) and twice as the loser against a Big Ten opponent (Ohio State and Indiana).
Three routs involved Duke, twice as the winner (vs. Kentucky and Notre Dame) and once on the losing end as the top-ranked team (Miami in 2013).
Virginia’s 65-39 loss to Florida in 2017 marked the lowest scoring ever by an ACC team in NCAA tournament competition.
Largest Victory Margins InvolvingTop 25 ACC Members, Last
Decade (Winning Team Listed First, Through 1/30/21)
|37||85-48||Wisconsin #12-Louisville #23||12/19/20|
|35||85-50||UVa #18-Clemson #12||1/16/21|
|34||118-84||Duke #4-Kentucky #2||11/6/18|
|31||84-53||Clemson #20-Auburn #19||3/18/18|
|30||90-60||Duke #4-Notre Dame #10||2/7/15|
|27||90-63||Miami #25-Duke #1||1/23/13|
|26||65-39||Florida #20-UVa #24||3/18/17|
|25||74-49||Ohio St #6-UNC # 7||12/4/19|
|25||61-36||UVa #2-Clemson #18||1/23/18|
|25||96-71||UNC #5-Miami #11||2/20/16|
|24||65-41||UNC #10-UVa #14||2/18/17|
|24||83-59||Indiana #1-UNC #14||11/27/12|