Even with Tuesday’s ugly 60-48 loss at Clemson, Virginia should be in pretty good position for an at-large bid come NCAA Tournament time, should being the key word.
The Cavs have had a very successful season, one good enough that Tony Bennett has had his name tossed around with the likes of Frank Haith, Mike Brey and Steve Fisher as potential National Coach of the Year candidates. They went 13-1 in non-conference play with wins over the likes of Michigan, Drexel, George Mason, LSU and Oregon. They climbed as high as top 15 nationally and have a legitimate contender for ACC Player of the Year on their roster in Mike Scott.
All in all, its been a very good year in Charlottesville.
But its too early to call it successful, because anything short of an NCAA Tournament berth would be considered a disappointment for this group after the start they had to the season. And while UVA can probably sit fairly comfortably on the right side of the bubble even with Tuesday’s loss — let’s just say its a great year to lose in your conference tournament — its getting to the point where Cav fans may be sweating a little more than they thought they would be.
Andre Young and Tanner Smith both scored 13 points and Devin Booker added all ten of his points in the second half as the Tigers handed Virginia its third loss in the last four games. Throw in the fact that Virginia has also lost to Virginia Tech and TCU this season and that, of the five wins listed above, only Michigan carries much weight, the Cavs are, suddenly, in a bit of a precarious situation.
They are now sitting in sixth-place in the ACC and with games left against both Florida State and North Carolina, one more upset — they also play Virginia Tech and Maryland twice — puts Virginia in serious jeopardy of going 8-8 in the ACC.
Would that be enough to get in?
Probably, but I don’t think Tony Bennett wants to find out.