Commentary

Is Virginia ACC's third-best team?

Unsung Cavaliers have surprised, but can their success continue during ACC play?

Updated: January 5, 2012, 2:36 PM ET
By John Gasaway | Special to ESPN Insider
Mike ScottAP Photo/Andrew ShurtleffMike Scott has been a clear candidate for ACC Player of the Year so far.

These are the best of times for Virginia. The Cavaliers are 13-1 and ranked in the Top 25 -- for a program that's won just one NCAA tournament game over the past 16 years, that qualifies as very good news. So let me state up front that this is without question the best Virginia team we've seen in at least five years. In fact, if you want to split hairs, this group is likely even better than the 2007 UVA team that somehow managed to win a piece of the ACC regular-season title despite outscoring conference opponents by just 0.03 points per possession. Cavaliers, rejoice!

To the world outside of Charlottesville, however, there are still a few questions this team needs to answer before it can be classified alongside a certain Big Two in the ACC. For instance, remember when I said Virginia was 13-1? The loss was to TCU, a team that's lost home games to Nebraska and Tulsa. Nor, as we shall see, was that game the only instance of troubling performance from Tony Bennett's team. Nevertheless, in the spirit of rightfully enthused Hoo fans, I'm going to start my assessment of Virginia on a positive note. And what a positive note ...