Who is the best defensive basketball team in the country – Virginia or Kentucky?


In the last few days we’ve seen a couple of incredible defensive performances on the basketball court. Kentucky jumped out to a 41-7 halftime lead against a decent UCLA team, where the Bruins shot 25% for the game. Well that did it, the Wildcats were unquestionably the best defensive team in the country. That was until the next day when Virginia put up an equally impressive defensive performance. Against the Ivy League’s best team and likely NCAA selection Harvard, the Cavaliers rolled to 39-8 lead at halftime.

When it was all said and done, Harvard scored a mere 27 points on 16% shooting. The 27 points weren’t even the lowest total Virginia had held a team this year. Rutgers scored just 26 on Virginia.

Kentucky has the best individual defender I’ve seen this year in Willie Cauley Stein. He is fast enough defend your small forward, and big enough to handle your center. The Wildcats frontline is so big and athletic it makes attacking the basket almost impossible.

Virginia’s packline defense makes it just as difficult to penetrate into the lane off the dribble, and good luck trying to get points in transition.

So whose defense is better – Virginia or Kentucky? I like the Wildcat big men, but Virginia’s defense seems to never have any lapses. Well neither does Kentucky’s…

Virginia will get tough tests in the ACC with quality teams like Duke, Louisville, Notre Dame, and UNC. Kentucky will roll through a weak SEC like a freight train winning games by an average of 20-25 points. Other than Kentucky the SEC doesn’t feature one other top 25 team.

We might not know the answer to this question until March.

Virginia currently sits 11-0 on the season, and Kentucky is 12-0. Both are ranked in the top 5.

Stats were pulled from NCAA.com

Virginia  Kentucky
Scoring Defense 1) 46.0 2) 47.7
FG Percentage Defense 2) 31% 1) 30%
3 Pt FG Percentage Defense 20) 27.8% 11) 27%
Blocked Shots Per Game 38) 5.3 1) 8.7
Steals Per Game 228) 5.9 40) 8.5
Number of Teams Held under 30 points 2 1
Number of Teams Held under 50 points 5 8
Number of Teams Held under 70 points 11 11


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