The last time we saw the Virginia Cavaliers in action Tony Bennett’s squad looked bad, as they were outclassed on both ends Monday night in a blowout loss at Tennessee. With their best win coming at the expense of SMU, the Cavaliers entered ACC play in need of more quality wins. But who are the Cavaliers? A team many felt had the pieces needed to contend in the ACC didn’t have the results to match that belief, and their conference opener at Florida State didn’t have the appearance of a game Virginia could use to get back on track.
That wasn’t the case in Tallahassee on Saturday evening, as Virginia limited the Seminoles to 17 first-half points in their 62-50 victory. What makes the result even more impressive is the fact that they lost leading scorer Joe Harris to an injury just over two minutes into the game.
Offensively Virginia was balanced, with Justin Anderson leading four players in double figures with 16 points and Akil Mitchell grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds. The Cavaliers also grabbed 39.5% of its misses, taking advantage of an opponent that entered the game allowing an ACC-worst offensive rebounding percentage of 33.9%.
But with the Cavaliers shooting just 32.8% from the field, it was their defense that made the difference on Saturday. Florida State shot 30.8% from the field and 4-for-14 from beyond the arc, with the field goal percentage being well below the 48.7% Leonard Hamilton’s team was shooting entering Saturday. Add in 16 Seminole turnovers and it’s easy to see why Virginia was able to find a way to pick up a valuable win on the road.
So, who is Virginia? Honestly that remains a difficult question to answer, given the gap between their two performances this week. And there’s also the Harris injury to consider, because for as effective as Virginia was without him on Saturday they need him on the floor. We may still be without a definitive answer as to who the Cavaliers are and what their potential is but there’s still the talent needed to be a factor in the ACC, with Saturday’s result serving as a reminder.
National Semifinals– Saturday, April 1
6:09 p.m. EST, CBS, Glendale
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)
Approximately 40 minutes after conclusion of first game, CBS, Glendale
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Oregon (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)
North Carolina and Kentucky ended in legendary fashion on Sunday.
After freshman Malik Monk buried a heavily-contested three-pointer to tie the game at 73-all for Kentucky with under 10 seconds left the Tar Heels didn’t use a timeout as Theo Pinson found forward Luke Maye for the game-winning jumper.
These 10 seconds will go down as one of the greatest finishes in NCAA Tournament history.
North Carolina advanced to the Final Four for the second consecutive season and 20th time overall as the No. 1 seed Tar Heels outlasted No. 2 seed Kentucky, 75-73, during Sunday’s South Regional final in Memphis.
Reserve forward Luke Maye knocked in the game-winning jumper for the Tar Heels with 0.3 seconds left to break a 73-all tie after Kentucky’s Malik Monk tied the game with a three-pointer on the previous possession.
The Tar Heels (31-7) overcame an ankle issue from junior point guard Joel Berry as North Carolina was led by Justin Jackson’s 19 points.
Maye also stepped up with a big game for North Carolina as he continued his strong March with 17 points. Berry added 11 points, as he went to the locker room during the first half to get his ankle looked at before returning to play later in the half.
Kentucky (32-6) won the regular-season matchup of these teams, 103-100, in Las Vegas in December as their freshmen guards struggled to perform on Sunday. After De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk combined for 71 points in that previous win over the Tar Heels, the two freshmen studs couldn’t get going.
Both of them dealt with first-half foul trouble as Fox finished with 13 points while Monk was held to 12 points. Also battling foul trouble in the first half, freshman Bam Adebayo added 13 points for the Wildcats.
With Fox and Monk struggling to generate consistent offense, the Wildcats were able to stay in the game thanks to great performances from reserves like Isaac Humphries (career-high 12 points) and senior Dominique Hawkins (10 points.
North Carolina advances to face No. 3 seed Oregon in next weekend’s Final Four.
South Carolina earned its first trip to the Final Four with its win over SEC-rival Florida on Sunday.
The Gamecocks made sure to celebrate properly when head coach Frank Martin hit the locker room after the game by dousing him in water before Martin gave another speech.
Darius Rucker, the former front man of Hootie and the Blowfish and a current star in the country music world, is a lifelong South Carolina Gamecocks fan.
This isn’t really a secret.
Hell, on Friday night at a concert he was playing, Rucker set up TVs so that he would be able to watch South Carolina take on Baylor:
You probably didn’t realize just how big of a fan he actually is until you saw him, sitting second row at the regional final in New York City on Sunday afternoon, tearing up as the Gamecocks advanced to the Final Four:
Let ’em cry, Darius, if the tears fall down like rain.