Virginia’s Achilles’ heel reared its ugly head at the worst possible time.
The Cavaliers were up 13-11 at the under 12 timeout. By the time Tony Bennett called a timeout with 17:42 left in the second half, the Gators had gone on a 29-4 run and taken a 40-17 lead. The Cavaliers didn’t crack the 30-point mark until there were less than eight minutes left in the game, they trailed by as many as 29 points and eventually lost to No. 4 seed Florida, 65-39, in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
That’s been the issue that Virginia has faced all season long. With Malcolm Brogdon in the NBA and playing without Austin Nichols, Virginia, a team that has never been an offensive juggernaut under head coach Tony Bennett, just doesn’t have the kind of weapons that they need to be able to win a game like this. UVA scored fewer than 1.00 points-per-possession in seven of their last 11 games, and went 1-6 in those seven games. None of those seven teams were nearly as good defensively as Florida is.
And frankly, that’s what Saturday’s takeaway should be.
Virginia is a young team whose most talented players are freshmen and who lacks a proven, go-to scorer. The fact that Tony Bennett turned this team into a No. 5 seed says all you need to know about his coaching prowess.
But the real story here is that Florida, even without John Egbunu, is pretty damn good, and they just had the bracket open up for them to get to a Final Four. No. 1 seed Villanova lost to Wisconsin earlier on Saturday, and the Gators, who are loaded with versatile, athletic defenders, should be able to matchup well with whoever makes it out of the other half of the bracket.
Put another way, the jokes about Virginia are easy to make now, but there is a very real chance that we’ll realize just how good Florida is by the time this tournament comes to an end.