Are you like me? Do you find infinite excitement in the potential of watching a grizzly bear and crocodile go at it in a death match?
I don't even know who'd win that battle. Well, probably me as the spectator. I'd win. I mean, how many times do you get to watch two totally awesome predators try and kill each other simply out of hunger or anger or whatever motivates totally awesome predators to prey on things?
That's kind of like Duke-Virginia. It's going to be awesome simply because they're built to be awesome. And you shouldn't miss it because you only get so many chances to see it.
The polls have turned this game into a battle of top-10 teams instead of a top-five shootout. Duke currently sits at sixth in the coaches poll and seventh in the media tally; Virginia is a little behind at 10th and ninth, respectively. Through the lens of an efficiency methodology, however, this is a top-five knockout featuring two of the most interesting teams in the country.
|Fun Factor||7.7462 (1st)||6.9986 (3rd)|
|Pace||71.84 (13th)||74.82 (7th)|
|Adjusted Offensive Efficiency||35.63 (3rd)||33.65 (7th)|
|Adjusted Defensive Efficiency||25.99 (21st)||23.63 (12th)|
|Adjusted Efficiency Margin||9.64 (5th)||10.03 (3rd)|
This game is rocketing to 11, son.
It's just not that this game is featuring two of the better teams in the country; it's also that this sucker is showcasing some of the better individual offensive players in the college game this year.
|S. Stanwick||Virginia||4.91||4.49||9.4 (21st)|
|C. Bocklett||Virginia||6.20||0.89||7.72 (59th)|
|S. Bratton||Virginia||4.06||1.71||5.77 (134th)|
|C. Briggs||Virginia||4.27||1.50||5.77 (134th)|
|R. Bratton||Virginia||3.42||1.07||4.49 (182nd)|
|Z. Howell||Duke||6.49||2.29||8.78 (33rd)|
|J. Wolf||Duke||4.20||2.67||6.87 (90th)|
|C. Walsh||Duke||28.86||1.91||4.77 (177th)|
O/R = Offensive rating (goals per 100 offensive possessions).
A/R = Assist Rate (assists per 100 offensive possessions).
T.O.V. = Total Offensive Value (points per 100 offensive possessions).
Big guns on big teams on a big stage. Hot cha-cha!
So, what should we all be watching out for?
- Will Steele Stanwick go for Virginia? He's listed as day-to-day with a foot injury and the Cavalier offense -- as destructive as Godzilla tearing through Japan with him -- has not been clicking quite as well without him. Duke, while pretty respectable as a defensive squad, hasn't done an outstanding job stopping opposing offenses from converting. The Devils are 32nd nationally in defensive shooting percentage, 21st in defensive assist rate, and have taken some lumps stopping shots when in man-down scenarios, holding opponents to a 30.23% extra-man conversion rate (32nd nationally). A guy like Stanwick is perfect for exploiting those defensive issues and would really help Virginia get in a position to win. If Stanwick can't go, Duke has one less issue to worry about.
- The possession war. Each team plays a bunch of possessions per 60 minutes of play. Where there's tension is that neither team is really winning the possession war against their opponents. Duke is 18th nationally in possessions per game margin (offensive possessions over defensive possessoins) and Virginia is 24th in the country. The reason this is important is that both the Devils and the Cavaliers are rolling out offenses that replicate tactical nuclear weapons. There will be a huge importance on limiting defensive exposure via a dilution of defensive possessions. Consequently, it'll be interesting to watch the face-off battle (Duke is right around 56% on the season; Virginia is hanging around 50%), and each team's ride (both teams are in the top-15 in offensive and defensive clearing percentage).
Whoever controls the pace factors is in the driver's seat for moving on to the tournament championship as their defense, in all likelihood, would not have been in a position to be abused.
If you have anything else to add, drop 'em in the comments below.