The Virginia basketball team earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament and drew a slot in the West Region as the No. 4 seed. The Hoos, who open play in Indianapolis at Assembly Hall, are scheduled to face No. 13 seed Ohio in the opening game on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. The Double Bonus returns for a sneak peek at the Bobcats.
According to the Synergy Sports data, Ohio owns the one of the nation’s best offenses at 0.991 points per possession (ppp). That rates as “excellent” in the 94th percentile in that data. It dips slightly when you take out transition – the Bobcats tally 15.7% of their possession in transition per Synergy – and zone. Against man defense in halfcourt situations, Ohio’s offense still rates as “excellent” but in the 91st percentile at 0.948 ppp. Given that Virginia’s style already wants to reduce transition opportunities – the Hoos allowed the second fewest transition possessions per game per Synergy at 6.5 per game – and that the Cavaliers have not played a zone possession this season, the latter is what the Bobcats should see the most in this matchup.
So with that in mind, let’s look at some of the halfcourt concepts that Ohio uses frequently.
Pick And Pop
Starting here makes the most sense because this is one thing that can be a bit of a poison pill for the Pack-Line scheme. Over the years, UVA fans have seen players like Jamie Vanderbeken (Iowa State), Dinos Mitoglou (Wake Forest), and Adreian Payne (Michigan State) have some success with pick-and-pop plays above the free throw line. When teams set a high ball screen near the top of the key with the other three offensive players flattened out toward the baseline, it can create some tactical decisions for coach Tony Bennett and the scheme.
The Bobcats already have this in their bag of tricks with point guard Jason Preston and forward Ben Vander Plas putting defenses in a bind with high ball screens. Preston can get downhill and create for himself or others, while Vander Plas has some elite pick-and-pop numbers. The pop part of the play figures to be more dangerous to the Pack-Line because 3-pointers can stretch the defense and potential small ball lineups could challenge Jay Huff in terms of personnel. Vander Plas has tallied 20 pick-and-pop possessions...
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