While the College Basketball World has collectively swooned over Duke and Kentucky, the Virginia Cavaliers have quietly dismantled each team they have faced, and raced out to a 12-0 record and #3 Ranking Nationally.
Despite the impressive play and perfect start, you just won't hear as much about the Hoos as you do the Devils and Cats.
Perhaps if they had McDonald's All-Americans at every position?
Today at 5:30 on ESPN2, UM will be playing a team as good as any in the country.
What has made UVA so good? And how can Miami pull off the upset?
For all of that and more, we spent a few minutes with Brian Leung of SB Nation's Virginia, site, Streaking the Lawn.
Also, our answers to his Q's HERE
Here is the full Q&A:
SOTU: Virginia is obviously off to a ridiculous start. They are ranked #3 Nationally, 12-0 with wins over Maryland, VCU, Harvard, and Davidson among others, and have looked quite frankly, dominant. Encapsulate their season for us this far. What has made them such an exceptional team to this point of the season?
STL: In a word, this season has thus far been perfect. I can say that because the record says that. Everyone has stepped up and improved over last year, and as cheesy as this might sound, one of the reasons they’re exceptional this year is because they really are playing like a team. For as high-flying as some of Justin Anderson’s plays have been, let’s not forget that he’s giving up two dishes a game also. This is an extremely deep, well-rounded team who still has room to grow simply by getting more experience.
SOTU: Justin Anderson has taken over as the team's leading scorer at 15 ppg. How good is this guy? Is he now the best player on the team, or is that still Malcolm Brogdon's mantle?
STL: There’s no doubt that he’s always been the most athletic player on the team – we knew that last year even when he was coming off the bench. As for the best player, it’s really hard to say. His 15 points per game is great, but he’s not the only one finding the bottom of the net, as Brogdon is getting 13.3 points (and 2.9 assists!) per game and Gill has 13.2 points per game. His shooting prowess has allowed him to fill a gap left by Joe Harris, which is fun for viewers at home. But honestly, everyone has really grown into their positions nicely and I’d be hard pressed to find the best player on the team.
SOTU: When I watched the ACC/B1G Challenge, freshman Marial Shayok's play was a real eye opener. How good has he been, and which other under the radar players have had an impact for the Hoos?
STL: That was probably his biggest game yet, but still, he’s been a tremendous asset as a freshman who has been able to contribute in a meaningful way since Day One. I didn’t really know what to expect from him, so I’ve been pleasantly surprised all season. He’s shown smart basketball IQ as a guard and doesn’t easily get faked out on defense. I don’t think Anthony Gill can really be considered "under the radar," but keep an eye out for him as I don’t think he receives the attention he deserves. He’s 6’8", 230 lbs., but he plays even bigger than that and can be a nightmare for unsuspecting opponents who are looking only to box out Mike Tobey.
SOTU: Is this team better than last season's ACC Regular Season/Conference Tournament Champs? Are they good enough to overcome Duke and Louisville, and repeat the feat?
STL: Yes, this is a better team, and yes, they are good enough not just Duke and Louisville, but anyone in the country. I’m looking at you, Kentucky. Now before your commenters start taking jabs of my delusions of grandeur, I’m not necessarily saying that Virginia is a better team than Kentucky. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. But I do think Virginia has as great a shot as any of taking that team down if given the chance. Last year’s team was extremely Joe Harris-dependent, and they were lucky in a sense because Harris always delivered. He rarely had an off night. This year’s team has threats from all over court, and you can’t just take out one player and hope to overcome the entire team.
SOTU: How do you see the overall landscape of the conference for 2015? How many teams make the tourney?
STL: The ACC is good. It’s really good. We all know that Virginia, Duke, and Louisville are easily at the top, and Notre Dame and North Carolina are easily knocking on the door. I don’t see these five teams missing the tournament. But Syracuse tends to find a way to turn it back on for conference play, and Miami, Pitt, Georgia Tech, Clemson and NC State all have legitimate chances at making the tournament. Would 11 of 15 teams be a crazy guess?
SOTU: Are there are players/match-ups on Miami that concern you for this contest?
STL: Any team that can shoot lights out from beyond the arc stands a good chance of beating Virginia. We saw that earlier this week when, for a while, Davidson looked untouchable from downtown. Miami has shown flashes of brilliance from that distance, particularly in the second half of the big win over [overrated] No. No. 8 Florida. If they can do that – and sustain it – they might have a chance.
SOTU: Last but not least, how does this game play out. Who wins and why?
STL: Virginia isn’t ready to lose one yet. Even though this is on the road and Miami and its fans will be hyped up, I think the Hurricanes still need a game or two of some confidence-building wins before their shooting heats back up. Virginia takes this one, 64-54.
Thanks again to Brian for letting us catch up with him and previewing the game. It should be an excellent contest.
Be sure to check it out at 5:30 PM on ESPN2.