If Super Bowl XLVIII is anything as exciting as this weekend of ACC basketball, we are in for a treat tonight.
One day after Syracuse outlasted Duke in front of an NCAA on-campus record crowd, Virginia and Pittsburgh — the Nos. 2 and 3 teams in the ACC — went head-to-head, each getting an opportunity to strengthen its case as a contender in the conference.
With 9.1 seconds remaining, and tied 45-45, London Perrantes brought the ball up the floor. Joe Harris came off a staggered screen, but stumbled on his curl. Trailing Harris was Malcolm Brogdon, who took Perrantes’ pass and stepped into a game-winning 3-pointer from several feet behind the line to push Virginia past No. 18 Pitt, 48-45 on the road on Sunday afternoon.
Brogdon’s game-winner was the first field goal for the Cavaliers in over eight minutes.
Moments earlier, Pitt had two looks for a go-ahead bucket. James Robinson had a good look at a three from the wing. Jamel Artis corralled the rebound, but missed his second-chance opportunity.
Virginia was a top-25 team to start the season. But the Cavaliers stumbled in December. On Dec. 4, they scored 38 points in a loss to Wisconsin at home. Three days later, they were upset on the road against Green Bay. Virginia ended 2013 with a 35-point beatdown from Tennessee on Dec. 30.
Recently, Virginia has been much improved, winners of five straight following a four-point loss at Duke. The Cavaliers have had their bumps in the road, but the remaining ACC schedule is quite favorable.
Boston College, Georgia Tech, Maryland (twice), Clemson, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Miami and Syracuse (at home) remain on its regular season slate.
Compare that to soon-to-be top-ranked Syracuse.
The Orange still have to go to Pittsburgh and to Duke; the latter game being the start of a three-game road trip, which ends in Charlottesville, Va. on March 1.
The Cavaliers are half a game out of first place in the ACC standings, two games ahead of the Panthers and Blue Devils. Given its upcoming schedule, what are the chances Virginia ends up being the ACC regular season champion?