After beating No. 3 Duke on Thursday night the Virginia Cavaliers looked to be on the verge of locking up an NCAA tournament bid.
That changed on Sunday afternoon.
A Joe Rahon three-pointer with 8.2 seconds remaining gave Boston College a 53-52 victory in Chestnut Hill, and for a team that has lost at home by one point to both Duke and Miami it had to feel good to get over the hump.
But with all due respect to Steve Donahue’s young team the story isn’t the step that BC has taken towards respectability. The story is the fact that Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers have added yet another line to a resume that will likely give the selection committee fits when they get together in Indianapolis to fill out the 68-team field.
Akil Mitchell led the Cavaliers with 16 points and nine rebounds and Harris added 14, but a Jontel Harris turnover following a Rahon missed free throw proved to be Virginia’s last chance before time expired (Mitchell’s half-court heave was released after time expired).
Sunday’s defeat is Virginia’s seventh against a team ranked 127 (Delaware) or worse in the RPI, and while the Cavaliers may have more “good wins” than any other team on the bubble that’s a tough total to overcome.
With 4:27 remaining Virginia took a 49-41 lead on a Joe Harris jumper, looking to be in good position to take care of business ahead of games against Florida State and Maryland to end the regular season.
But just as they did in their 66-60 loss at Georgia Tech on February 3 the Cavaliers failed to close, allowing the Eagles to hang around and Boston College made them pay. Virginia may still get into the NCAA tournament thanks to their quality wins and the fact that few teams have done enough work to get off the bubble.
But the Cavaliers have done a good job of making sure they don’t lock up a bid. And if they aren’t careful Virginia could very well find itself on the outside looking in come Selection Sunday.