Six Shots: Lucky or Good?

Virginia has played seven games this season that were decided by one possession. Combined score for those seven games? 393 for Virginia, 381 for opponents.

Seven games decided by a collective twelve points, or an average of 1.7 points. And yet, Virginia is 6-1 in those games:

W Arizona State 48-45

L NC State 51-53

W Wake 65-63

W Notre Dame (OT) 50-49

W UNC 64-62

W Pitt 59-56

W VT 56-53

That, my friends, is the combination of experience and coaching. OK, OK, and just a little luck: Virginia is 20-7 (12-5 ACC), but just six shots away from being 14-13 (7-10 ACC). Six shots!

That’s living on the razor’s edge. So what do you think? Is it luck, or just great coaching and experience that gives Virginia a decided edge in late-game situations?


It’s funny to think that almost every game this year, with the exception of the Purdue game and maybe the South Carolina game and maybe a few more, could’ve gone either way all the way up to the last few minutes or even seconds. We could very easily be 20-2 or 10-17… wow


Great coaching and certainly experience in those situations I think are the major factors. If you have done it before you know you can do it again! And a little good fortune never hurts…


Yep, if Virginia scored four more points, they could be 22-5 (14-3 ACC). That’s one more point against Syracuse in regular time and three more against NC State.

Four more points, and Virginia would be #1 in the ACC.

Razor’s edge.



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Good question. Obviously our superior defense gives us an advantage. But could this be giving us an edge towards the end of games when an opposing offense already has tons of pressure on their shoulders in the last few minutes?

Another question I was asking myself yesterday was it seems like opposing scores in a basketball game are many times magnetic. For instance, Why didnt VT during their second half run just continue right past our score and beat us by 10. Also, why did VT finally catch on fire in the second half and it just so happened that they began running out of fuel right when they finally caught up with us. I think it has to do with the grand chess masters(coaches) moving their pieces in and out, changing offences/defenses to counter balance an opposite teams strength and weakness. If the game was not manipulated or influenced by the coaches I think you would see many more blow outs and college basketball would not be nearly as exciting.

So with that said, I believe we do have some luck on our side, but even more so we have a good coach who is having a direct effect on the outcomes of the game.


Good! not voodoo luck. give credit to the players and coaches. also holds true if that happens to any team they were missing the shots and team play per coaching was deteriorating. while there are odds based on skills. nothing lucky in life. hard work matters. hard coaching matters for improvement. team skills and play improving. looking forward to next year when team WILL be even better. reason analytics matter and are becoming very very accurate


Love this topic! And I’ll give the weakest answer ever, it’s both. The Hoos have become a good team playing in the clutch. They were baptized by fire this season and we are seeing the results in the UNC, and VT game especially but to lesser extent the Pitt game as well to name a few. It takes a certain amount of grit to be able to handle the pressure of those situations and this year’s team is learning that. The returning starters from last year are used to that pressure cooker. Braxton, Key and Clark all played under way bigger lights in bigger moments and had to come away with special plays.

The luck comes in the form of sometimes you need a call to go your way or a bounce to go your way. The Hoos has been on both sides of those situations. Cuse comes to mind of a game with a team getting a couple good bounces to keep it tight and then they blew it open. There was a similar experience with BC shooting out of this world up in Boston.

I think the key is every team is at the mercy of ‘luck’ or the uncontrollable events. Sometimes shots just go in for the other team. You can’t do a thing about that. Where the coaching comes in is how does a team handle those uncontrollable situations? Can they take a gut punch or a blast to the face and shake it off and bounce back with a solid play. The CTB style builds tough minded players and this year’s team is learning those lessons and using their coaching to be prepared for the lucky and the unlucky.


I believe it’s a combination of the guys maturing, growing confidence and coaching. Practically every game we lost was close too. Now we are winning those games


Agreed. I definitely see a huge improvement in maturity and confidence, and that’s making a huge difference


These are such interesting stats to think about especially with all of the great analyses here in the replies. It would be so interesting to see how many other teams (if any) have similar stats or which teams might be on the losing end of stats like this… if only I had the time haha


I took a look at the other three double-bye teams: Florida State, Louisville, and Duke.

Duke is 2-1 in games decided by one shot (the loss was to Stephen F. Austin). Louisville is 1-0. Florida State is 4-1 (the loss was at Pitt).

Collectively, they’ve played nine games that close. Virginia has played seven by themselves.


Props to you for taking a look @NakedIcarus! That makes sense to me with FSU, Louisville, and Duke being at the top of the ACC since I think that would mean that they have all won more games by more than one shot in addition to having won most of the games that were decided by one possession that they have played like these stats show.

I had some time to kill and you inspired me to take a look at 3 of the teams below Virginia in ACC standings as well and I found that in games decided by one possession:

  • Notre Dame is 4-6 (with an overall record of 18-10 (9-8 ACC))
  • Syracuse is 3-3 (with an overall record of 16-12 (9-8 ACC))
  • NC State is 2-2 (with an overall record of 17-11 (8-9 ACC))

All of these teams’ losses in one-possession games were to another ACC team except for one of ND’s losses to Indiana. Assuming that it’s improbable that any team wins every single one-possession game they are in, Notre Dame is the only team that could have hypothetically matched or even exceeded Virginia’s record of 20-7 (12-5 ACC) if they had won more of the one-possession games that they lost.

I know that teams play in more close games besides just those that are decided by one possession so these stats don’t tell the whole story of how good a team is, but looking at it like this definitely makes me appreciate the coaching and the experience and talent of the players even more when they pull off a win in a game that’s decided by one possession!


Im curious what UNC looks like? Hehe…

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They’re the anti-Virginia: they’re 1-6 in games decided by a single shot. Three of those in OT. Their one win was over Yale.


Don’t underestimate the power of expecting to win. When a team has consistently won over multiple seasons it creates a confidence that you can feel and see. Doesn’t matter the sport or level. You could see it with the Chokies in football against us during the streak. Patriots had it. Always thought they would score with the game on the line. How many times did Dean Smith teams come from behind to win close games. They just never thought they would lose.


Thanks @NakedIcarus. That stat just made my day.

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Ahem… EIGHT GAMES won by a total of 14 points. 7-1 in games won by one shot. Suck it, Duke.


Time to update the title of this thread to Seven Shots.