The Cavalanche

Updated May 25, 2017 by Seattle Hoo

The Cavalanche entered Virginia Basketball lore in the 2013-14 season, when the suddenly resurgent program proceeded to bury a succession of ACC teams off under the weight of a suffocating defense and surprisingly powerful offense. Two terms briefly battled for supremacy to describe the phenomenon, but Cavalanche captured the imagination of the fan base and overcame Hoonami.

But what is a Cavalanche? The question has prompted much discussion, including attempts to find a mathematical formula. I thought it would be a fun exercise for Hoos.Space to do the same. After consulting a panel of experts, I came up with the following set of requirements, and wrote an algorithm to analyze the possession data for patterns that would fit the pattern and find Cavalanches.

But, again, what is a Cavalanche? We all seem to agree that it has to be sustained. It is more than a "run." It needs to cover a period of several minutes, include a large points disparity, and involve futility by the other team. It has to break their will, burying them alive and taking away their desire to compete. There is no coming back from a Cavalanche.

The requirements I gleaned from discussion are as follows:

A minimum point spread depending on the time of the game. After all, it takes a larger deficit early in the game to break a team's spirit than late in the game. So the minimum point spread requirement is:

For a Cavalanche ending before the 16:00 mark of the second half: +25

For a Cavalanche ending between 16:00 and 6:00 of the second half: +17

For a Cavalanche in the last 6:00 of the game: +12

UVA must outscore the opponent by more than 4:1

For a Cavalanche ending before the 6:00 mark, the opponent must be held scoreless for at least 5 minutes.

In the last 6:00, the scoreless period must be at least 3 minutes.

The opponent cannot have 2 scores in any 4-possession stretch.

The Cavalanche widget is on the Game Page.