After a year of ups and downs, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee decided to leave the Virginia Cavaliers out of the field of 68. Many experts were split about whether or not to include Virginia in the Dance during the time leading up to the 6 PM EST announcement because the Cavaliers had such an inconsistent season.
After the loss to NC State in the ACC tournament, Coach Tony Bennett called his team the “Dos Equis of bubble teams, the most interesting bubble team in the field.” The Wahoos finished fourth in the ACC with a 21-11 record (11-7 ACC). Their biggest wins of the year came against Duke, Wisconsin, UNC, and NC State, while the tough losses were against Old Dominion, Boston College, GMU, Florida State, Wake Forest, and Clemson.
The odds were against the Cavaliers because of their play at the end of the season. After pulling off a huge upset against Duke, the team entered a last-minute tailspin by losing 3 of their last 4 games. The blow out loss to NC State probably pushed Virginia from being in the first four in to the first four out. It also didn’t help that Ole Miss was able to win the SEC Conference Championship, locking up an automatic bid. After the announcement of Middle Tennessee and Saint Mary’s making the tournament, Virginia knew that their bubble had burst.
The Selection Committee’s decision showed that there was clearly more value in Virginia’s losses than its wins. Virginia was capable of playing like a top-10 team at times in the year, like they did against Duke, but often times they also times played below their potential. The inconsistency led to frustration among Virginia fans throughout the year. They knew that if given the opportunity, Virginia could do some real damage in the tournament. Although this result is disappointing for Virginia, it would have been harder if the Cavaliers were comprised of majority seniors, but in fact, the Cavaliers will only be losing Jontel Evans to graduation next year.
If the team can bring back key contributors such as Joe Harris, Justin Anderson, Mike Tobey, Evan Nolte, and Paul Jesperson, they have a good shot at competing for the ACC Title next year. For now, the Wahoos will have a shot at the NCAA tournament’s ugly sister, the NIT. For continued coverage of the Cavaliers’ NIT run, stay tuned to All Over the Hill!