March 4, 1998
Virginia vs. the #1 Seed
This is the first time Virginia has been the ninth seed in the ACC Tournament, but not the first time the Cavaliers have been the last seed in the tournament. The most recent last seed was an eighth-place finish in 1985.
Virginia has played against the top seed in the ACC Tournament many times over the years, posting a 3-15 all-time record against the #1 seed. The Cavaliers have lost all five previous quarterfinal match-ups against the tournament's top seed.
The Series vs. the Blue Devils
Duke leads the all-time series with the Cavaliers 90-45. The Blue Devils have dominated the series in recent years, winning 26 of the last 34 meetings since Ralph Sampson's graduation from Virginia in 1983.
Virginia is 3-9 all-time against Duke in the ACC Tournament. This is the first meeting in the tournament since the Cavaliers defeated the Blue Devils 66-61 in the semifinals of the 1994 tournament.
Virginia-Duke in the ACC Tournament
This is the 13th time Virginia and Duke have met in the ACC Tournament. The Blue Devils and North Carolina are the Cavaliers' most common opponents in the ACC Tournament through the years. Duke holds a 9-3 advantage in ACC Tournament meetings against the Cavaliers.
A look at the previous tournament games vs. Duke is below.
Year Round Seed Seed Score
1954 QF 8 1 DU, 96-68
1955 SF 6 2 DU, 90-77 (ot)
1961 QF 7 2 DU, 89-54
1963 QF 8 1 DU, 89-70
1967 QF 7 2 DU, 99-78
1969 QF 6 3 DU, 99-86
1973 QF 5 4 UVa, 59-55
1983 QF 2 7 UVa, 109-66
1986 SF 5 1 DU, 75-70
1988 QF 6 3 DU, 60-48
1989 SF 3 2 DU, 69-58
1994 SF 4 1 UVa, 66-61
Cavaliers Face the Nation's Top-Ranked Team
Due to schedule quirks that saw Virginia play Duke in December, this first round game marks the Cavaliers' fifth game this season against the #1 team in the nation.
Virginia lost at Duke 103-59 on December 6 in its ACC opener when the Blue Devils sat atop the polls.
North Carolina replaced Duke in the top spot on December 16 and remained there for five weeks. The Cavaliers fell to the Tar Heels 81-73 in Chapel Hill on January 10.
Duke moved back into the top spot following North Carolina's loss to Maryland on January 14. The newly reinstalled #1 Blue Devils downed the Cavaliers 72-65 in Charlottesville on January 24.
Following North Carolina's win over #1 Duke on February 5, the Tar Heels supplanted the Blue Devils atop the polls. The Tar Heels came to Charlottesville ranked #1 and defeated the Cavaliers 60-45.
This is the 21st time in school history the Cavaliers have played the #1 team in the nation.
The Cavaliers have not fared well against top-ranked teams, posting a 1-19 all-time record. Virginia's lone win over the #1 team was an 86-73 win over North Carolina in Charlottesville on January 30, 1986.
Virginia has faced Duke seven times when the Blue Devils were ranked number one and have lost all seven.
A look at Virginia's games against Duke when the Blue Devils were ranked #1 is below.
Date Site Result
Dec. 18, 1965 UVa Duke, 75-72
March 8, 1986 Greensboro, N.C. Duke, 75-70
Jan. 7, 1989 UVa Duke, 84-76
Jan. 2, 1992 UVa Duke, 68-62
Feb. 26, 1992 Duke Duke, 76-67
Dec. 6, 1997 Duke Duke, 103-59
Jan. 24, 1998 UVa Duke, 72-65
A look at the Cavaliers' performance against the #1 seed is below.
Year (UVa seed) Rnd. Opponent
1954 (8) QF lost to Duke 96-68
1959 (5) SF lost to N.C. State 66-63
1960 (8) QF lost to North Carolina 84-63
1962 (8) QF lost to Wake Forest 81-58
1963 (8) QF lost to Duke 89-70
1971 (5) SF lost to North Carolina 78-68
1973 (5) SF lost to N.C. State 63-51
1974 (4) SF lost to N.C. State 87-66
1976 (6) F def. North Carolina 67-62
1977 (7) F lost to North Carolina 75-69
1982 (2) F lost to North Carolina 47-45
1985 (8) QF lost to Georgia Tech 55-48
1986 (5) SF lost to Duke 75-70
1987 (4) SF lost to No. Carolina 84-82 (2ot)
1990 (5) SF def. Clemson 69-66
1993 (5) SF lost to North Carolina 74-56
1994 (4) SF def. Duke 66-61
1995 (4) SF lost to Wake Forest 77-68
First Team in History to Face #1 Five Times
This first round game marks the fifth time this season the Cavaliers have faced the #1 team in the nation, making Virginia the first school in NCAA history to play five games against the #1 team in a season.
Earlier this season the Cavaliers became just the second team to play four games against the #1 team, but they're making history with this match-up against Duke.
Southern California played (and lost) four games against UCLA during the 1966-67 season. The Bruins were ranked first in all 15 Associated Press polls that season en route to their third national championship in four years.
Only two other teams have played #1 even three times this season--Georgia Tech and Maryland.
Third Meeting vs. #1 Blue Devils
This is Virginia's third game against Duke and all have come with the Blue Devils ranked #1 in the country. As mentioned before, this is Virginia's fifth game of the season against a team sitting atop the polls--a first in NCAA history.
While it's happened before, it is unusual to play three games against one team ranked #1 for each game. The Cavaliers become the 22nd team in NCAA history to meet a team three times in a season with that team ranked #1 for each game. (Depending on what happens from here on out, Georgia Tech and North Carolina could join this list. Both have played #1 Duke twice this season.)
It happened twice last season as Iowa State and Missouri played Kansas three times when the Jayhawks were ranked first.
It happened just eight times from 1949-76 and didn't happen from 1977-83. Since 1984, however, it has happened 14 times.
Clemson and Duke were the first ACC teams to accomplish the feat. They played #1 North Carolina in 1983-84.
The second (and most recent) ACC occurrence came in 1991-92 when Georgia Tech, Maryland and North Carolina faced Duke three times during the Blue Devils' second NCAA title season.
Nolan, Staples 1-2 in Scoring
As Virginia's leading returning scorers, it is no surprise that Norman Nolan and Curtis Staples have carried the scoring load this season.
One of the two has led the team in scoring in every game this season except the Clemson game on January 20 when Colin Ducharme led with 16 points.
Overall this season there have been 23 games where the duo ranked 1-2 in scoring.
Nolan leads UVa in scoring, averaging 21.3 points per game, and has been on fire since Christmas. In the 20 games since Christmas, he is averaging 23.0 points per game, while shooting 51.8 percent from the field and 70.2 percent from the free throw stripe.
Staples is the only other Cavalier in double figures, averaging 18.3 points per game. He has been UVa's leading scorer in five of the last nine games scoring 24, 25, 21, 31 and 28 points to lead the Cavaliers.
With a combined scoring average of 39.6 ppg, they are the most prolific Cavalier duo in over 40 years. Buzzy Wilkinson (32.1 ppg) and Bob McCarty (19.7 ppg) had a combined scoring average of 51.8 ppg in 1954-55.
Nolan Having a Fabulous Season
Norman Nolan may not get the national acclaim that some players get, but he has clearly become one of the top power forwards in the college game today.
He has had a season that ranks with the best in Virginia history.
After a rigorous off-season where he worked hard on his strength and conditioning, and adding to his outside game, Nolan has picked up his level of play tremendously this year and caused ACC coaches and NBA scouts to take notice.
We're unsure what Nolan asked Santa Claus for this Christmas, but it's apparent the jolly man in red filled Nolan's stocking with a variety of offensive moves to score and bundles of rebounds to grab.
Nolan has put together a season the likes of which hasn't been turned in by a Virginia big man since Ralph Sampson.
Since Christmas, Nolan has been outstanding. In the 20 games since then, he is averaging 23.0 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. He's also shooting 51.8 percent from the floor and 70.2 percent from the free throw line.
And he's posted these numbers despite constant double-teaming, and occasional triple-teaming.
Nolan has been selected the ACC Player of the Week three times and joins Antawn Jamison (six) as the only players to win the honor more than once this season.
Nolan has also turned in some of the top performances in the league in 1997-98. He is tied with Matt Harpring and Antawn Jamison for the ACC lead with 15 "double doubles."
Nolan holds the conference lead with 16 games of 10+ rebounds, one more than Harpring and Jamison.
Nolan and Jamison have each scored at least 30 points in four games this season to lead the league. The rest of the ACC players have combined for 10 30-point games. Nolan and Jamison are the first conference players since Joe Smith (Maryland) in 1994-95 to have at least four 30-point games in a season. (Smith had five.)
Nolan's 16 rebounds against George Mason is the second-most by an ACC player this season, while his 35 points in the first game against N.C. State is the fourth-best output in the ACC.
While he doesn't lead the league in 20-point games, Nolan is one of only six league players with at least 10 20-point games this year. Jamison leads with 22, followed by Harpring with 19, Nolan with 17, and Virginia's Curtis Staples and Tech's Dion Glover with 13. Shammond Williams of North Carolina has 11 games with at least 20 points.
Nolan is third in the conference in both scoring (21.3 ppg) and rebounding (9.0 rpg).
He is also fourth in the league in field goal percentage (52.7), minutes played (35.8 mpg) and offensive rebounds (2.90 orpg).
Turnovers Decrease Chances to Win
Turnovers are one thing that drive basketball coaches crazy. And this season turnovers have been a big bugaboo for head coach Jeff Jones and his staff as the Cavaliers are averaging 16.3 turnovers per game. Virginia has three games of 20+ turnovers and two others of 19 miscues.
The Cavaliers have 137 more turnovers than the opposition so far this season. They have also attempted 34 fewer shots despite having 33 more offensive rebounds than their opponents.
An inability to maximize their scoring chances has doomed the Cavaliers in several games this season as they have lost three games by seven points, three games by eight points, two games by five points, and others by four and 11 points.
In games when the Cavaliers have had as many or more turnovers than the opponent, they are 10-17.
Incredibly, five of Virginia's six-lowest turnover totals have occurred in losses. The Cavaliers have turned the ball over in a game 13 times or fewer six times this season and lost five of those contests. The season-low is 10 turnovers in a win over VCU.
Factors to Victory
Conventional baseball wisdom says it takes pitching and defense to win. For Virginia's basketball program it takes shooting, rebounding and defense to win this season. The Cavaliers' statistics in these three categories vary greatly between wins and losses this season.
When they win, they out-rebound the opposition by nine rebounds per game. By contrast, when they lose they have a rebound advantage of just more than one rebound per game.
There is also a great difference in field goal and three-point shooting between wins and losses.
A look at several areas broken down when the Cavaliers win and lose is below.
UVa wins UVa loses
UVa FG% 47.6 42.4
UVa 3FG% 37.4 32.6
UVa reb./g 39.7 34.2
UVa reb. margin +9.0 +1.3
UVa Ast.:TO 0.95:1 0.84:1
UVa PPG 69.2 65.0
Opp. FG% 35.0 48.0
Opp. 3FG% 29.0 40.8
Opp. FTA/g 17.0 26.5
Opp. Ast.:TO 0.83:1 1.33:1
Opp. PPG 56.9 78.4
Nolan First with 15 "Double Doubles"
Counted on to carry the scoring and rebounding load inside for the Cavaliers, Norman Nolan is excelling in both areas this season in what is the best season of his career.
He is third in the ACC in both scoring--21.3 ppg--and rebounding--9.0 rpg--this season.
He is also fourth in the league in field goal percentage (52.7), minutes played (35.8 mpg) and offensive rebounds (2.90 orpg).
Nolan has 15 "double doubles," tied with Antawn Jamison and Matt Harpring for the conference lead.
Nolan's 15 "double doubles" are the most by a Cavalier in a season since Ralph Sampson had 24 as a senior in 1982-83.
He turned in a fabulous Rainbow Classic in Hawaii, recording "double doubles" in all three Virginia games. His three "double doubles" were the most of any player in the Rainbow Classic. In fact, he was the only player with more than one.
For the tournament he finished third in scoring with 71 points (behind Kansas' Paul Pierce and Nebraska's Tyronn Lue). He was the tournament's second-leading rebounder with 31 boards, one fewer than Lester Earl of Kansas.
Staples Sets NCAA Three-Point Record
Curtis Staples is known as one of the top three-point shooters in the nation. So far this season he is living up to his reputation, leading the nation with an average of 4.4 three-pointers per game. And in the process he is rewriting the UVa, ACC and NCAA record book for three-point shooting.
His most recent entry occurred last Saturday against Florida State as he passed Keith Veney to become the NCAA's all-time three-point king. Staples' trey from the top of the key at the 18:43 mark of the second half of the game was the 410th three-pointer of his illustrious career. Veney made 409 playing at Lamar and Marshall from 1993-97.
Staples, who set the ACC three-point record against N.C. State on January 18, needs three more three-point attempts to move into the top spot in NCAA history. He has 1066 three-point attempts in his career, two behind Radford's Doug Day.
Staples has tossed in at least five three-pointers in 14 games this season, including a school record-tying nine threes against Georgia Tech on February 14. He also connected on nine three-pointers against UNLV in 1994-95.
He established a school record for three-point attempts in a game with 17 against North Carolina on February 11.
Staples's nine three-pointers against Georgia Tech is the most by an ACC player in two years. He has nine of the top-17 performances in the ACC this season for threes made in a game (including games of six or more three-pointers). No other player has more than two.
In the last 10 games, Staples is averaging 5.5 treys and 20.8 points per game.
Dersch Leads Team in Assists
Willie Dersch has struggled with his shooting touch throughout the season, but he hasn't let that bother other parts of his game.
He leads the team in assists with 98 (3.4 apg) and has been Virginia's leader 14 times this season.
His 98 assists this season are the most in school history for a frontcourt player. Jason Williford held the previous record with 75 assists in 1993-94.
Dersch also leads all ACC frontcourt players this season in assists and ranks 10th overall.
His 1.38:1 assists-to-turnover ratio is tops among ACC frontcourt players with at least 70 assists this season. He ranks 10th in the ACC in assists-to-turnover ratio.
Field Goal Shooting Improves this Season
Virginia has not been known recently for its field goal shooting proclivity, but so far this season the Cavaliers are shooting 44.2 percent from the field. This is a marked improvement from last season's mark of 42.7 percent.
Virginia topped the 40-percent mark in the first 16 games of the season before shooting 34.4 percent against Georgia Tech on January 15. (The season high is 58.9 percent vs. VMI on December 22.)
Already this season Virginia has topped 45 percent 15 times after doing so just 12 times in 31 games a year ago. The Cavaliers have only four sub-40 percent games this season after compiling 10 last year.
The Cavaliers' field goal shooting percentage this season is their best since shooting 45.5 percent in 1990-91.
Ducharme Equals Career High vs. Clemson
Colin Ducharme is one of the team's most intense players. Sometimes his intensity leads to being overly aggressive and a tendency to commit fouls, which usually limits his playing time. When he isn't hampered with foul difficulty he adds an extra dimension to the UVa offense.
He was whistled for at least four fouls in six consecutive games leading up to the January 12 encounter against state-rival Virginia Tech. In those six games he was averaging just 20.0 minutes of playing time per game.
He stayed out of foul trouble against the Hokies and showed what he can do by scoring a career-high 16 points in a career-high 36 minutes of action.
The Virginia Tech game seemed to be somewhat of a turning point in his season. In the 14 games since then, his playing time has increased and his numbers have improved.
Ducharme was one of Virginia's few bright spots in the loss at Clemson earlier this season as he showed once again what he can do when he isn't hampered with foul difficulties. He tied career highs in both points (16) and minutes played (36) against the Tigers and was whistled for just three fouls.
The Cavaliers are 21-14 (.600) in his career when Ducharme commits fewer than four fouls.
A look at his statistics before and after the Virginia Tech game are below.
Gms. Min./G RPG PPG
Pre-Va. Tech 15 19.9 4.5 7.3
Post-Va. Tech 14 27.5 5.7 8.9
Season 29 23.6 5.1 8.0
Nolan and Staples Have 1000 Career Points
Curtis Staples and Norman Nolan are among 15 active ACC players with at least 1000 career points. Staples ranks third among active ACC players with 1746 points, while Nolan is fifth with 1308 points.
Staples is eighth in Virginia history in scoring, while Nolan is 17th on the school's all-time list.
Their places on Virginia's all-time scoring list are below.
Player, years Pts.
6. Wally Walker, 1973-76 1849
7. Harold Deane, 1994-97 1763
8. Curtis Staples, 1995-pres. 1746
16. Mel Kennedy, 1985-88 1415
17. Norman Nolan, 1995-pres. 1308
Nolan Joins Gerard in Exclusive Club
Norman Nolan is just the second player in school history to average as many as 20 points and eight rebounds per game.
So far Nolan is averaging 21.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game this season.
If he can keep going at his current pace he would join Gus Gerard as the only players in school history to accomplish this feat. Gerard averaged 20.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in 1973-74.
In case you're curious, Ralph Sampson's career high scoring average was 19.1 ppg during his senior season in 1982-83.
They're There Every Night
Norman Nolan and Curtis Staples have started all 29 games this season for the Cavaliers. They are among only 15 players in the ACC to start each of their teams' games this season.
Staples worked his way into the starting line-up late in his freshman year in 1994-95, starting the last 10 games of the season. He has started 96 of the last 97 games in the backcourt for the Cavaliers. The only game he did not start was UVa's last home game last season on "Senior Day," a game where seniors traditionally start.
Nolan has started 81 of the last 87 games over the last three seasons. He started 26 games in each of the last two seasons.
Staples Sets School Record for Three-Pointers
Long-range bomber Curtis Staples has connected on 127 three-point field goals this season, breaking his own school record of 103 threes as a freshman in 1994-95.
Staples, who also owns the NCAA record for career three-pointers, has turned in two of the top-five seasons in ACC history.
He has led the ACC in three-point field goals in his first three seasons and is the league leader by a wide margin this season. If he leads the ACC in three-pointers this season, he will become just the third player in ACC history to lead the league in a statistical category for four consecutive seasons. (Ralph Sampson and Tim Duncan led the league in blocked shots four straight seasons.)
The top-five seasons in ACC history for three-point field goals made are below.
Player, school, year 3FGM
1. Dennis Scott, Ga. Tech, 1989-90 137
2. Curtis Staples, UVa, 1997-98 127
3. Scott, Ga. Tech, 1988-89 116
4. Rodney Monroe, N.C. State, 1990-91 104
5. Staples, UVa, 1994-95 103
Cavaliers Feature Three Ironmen
Virginia has nine players on its roster that average at least 10 minutes per game. Perhaps more interesting is that three players are playing an average of more than 33 minutes per game.
Curtis Staples is third in the nation with an ACC-leading average of 39.2 minutes per game this season. This means that Staples gets an average of 48 seconds of rest per game.
Norman Nolan, who averaged a career-high 28.9 minutes per game last season, is fourth in the ACC, averaging 35.8 minutes per game.
Willie Dersch has seen his minutes increase substantially. After averaging 13.4 minutes per game as a freshman last season, he is up to 34.0 minutes per game this season. That ranks seventh in the ACC.
No other trio in the ACC averages as many minutes as these three Cavaliers.
Based on available records, if Staples continues at his same pace, he would become just the fourth player in ACC history to average as many as 39.0 minutes per game in a season.
Ex-Georgia Tech standout Dennis Scott averaged an ACC-record 39.1 minutes per game in 1989-90.
Clemson's Butch Zatezalo (1968-69) and Wake Forest's Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues (1986-87) both averaged 39.0 minutes per game.
Staples' Month Equals a Season for Some
Curtis Staples has made more three-point field goals in the last month than all but eight of the other players in the ACC have made all season.
In the month of February (nine games), Staples connected on 49 treys.
That's more than 111 other conference players have made this season.
Only Duke's Trajan Langdon (70), N.C. State's C.C. Harrison (70) and Archie Miller (52), North Carolina's Shammond Williams (69), Wake Forest's Robert O'Kelley (66), Tony Rutland (57) and Steven Goolsby (51), and Clemson's Tony Christie (50) have more this season than Staples made in the month of February.
Taken alone, Staples' 127 three-pointers this season would rank sixth in Virginia history for career three-pointers.
Hand Sends Tigers Home in Defeat
Freshman Donald Hand had started 17 consecutive games at point guard leading up to the Cavaliers' game against Clemson on February 21 when Chezley Watson started in his place.
Virginia head coach Jeff Jones juggled his starting line-up a bit to give his squad a spark in hopes of putting an end to the team's eight-game losing streak and it worked.
Hand came off the bench for the first time since before Christmas and turned in several key plays in helping lead the Cavaliers to a 78-74 overtime win over the visiting Tigers.
He re-entered the game for Watson with 4:15 left in regulation and Virginia trailing 60-55.
Less than a minute after returning to the floor he converted a steal into an uncontested lay-up to cut the lead to 60-57.
With 13.3 seconds left on the clock he assisted on Curtis Staples' long three-pointer that drew Virginia to within one at 67-66. Staples was fouled attempting a three-pointer with 1.9 seconds left in regulation and forced overtime by making two of three free throws to knot the score at 68.
Hand started the overtime period and turned in perhaps the biggest series of plays of his young career in the final 30 seconds of overtime.
With 28.4 seconds remaining in overtime and Virginia clinging to a slim 75-74 lead, Norman Nolan missed two free throws that would have padded the Cavaliers' lead. Colin Ducharme tipped the second miss out and Hand chased it down to retain possession for Virginia.
Hand passed the ball to Staples who was promptly fouled. Staples made one of two free throws to put UVa ahead 76-74.
Clemson point guard Terrell McIntyre was given the opportunity to tie the score. He had beaten Hand earlier in the game on a drive into the lane and tried a similar move on his rookie counterpart.
This time Hand was looking for it and beat McIntyre to the spot and drew the charge in the lane with 10.8 seconds to play.
Hand was then fouled with 10 seconds remaining. After struggling from the free throw line all season (55.3 percent at the time), he calmly knocked down both attempts to provide the Cavaliers with the game's final points in the 78-74 win.
Hand leads the team with 37 steals and is second in assists with 97. He is also averaging 4.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.
He is third in school history in assists by a freshman and is sixth in freshman steals.
Hand is second among ACC rookies in assists, tied for fourth in steals and sixth in starts (20).
Nolan Seventh in School History
Norman Nolan has led Virginia in rebounding the last two seasons and is bidding to lead for the third consecutive season in 1998. So far he holds a wide lead in the team rebounding race with a 9.0 rebounds per game average.
If he leads the team in rebounding again this season he would be the first Cavalier since Ralph Sampson to pace the team for three straight seasons. Sampson led all four years from 1980-83.
Nolan is seventh in school history with 750 career rebounds. Next on the list is Scott McCandlish with 761 rebounds.