Chris Graham: UVa. ain’t won nuthin’ yet

uva-logo-new2Sunday’s loss at Maryland ought to scare the hell out of UVa. basketball fans because March. Put it this way: March is not kind to Virginia hoops, the March 1 win over Syracuse to clinch the 2014 ACC regular-season title notwithstanding.

A Virginia team hasn’t played on a Saturday at the ACC Tournament since 1995. Not sure that freshman point guard London Perrantes was even alive then. That 1995 team went to the Elite Eight; UVa. has won one NCAA Tournament game since, in 2007. (Perrantes would have been in middle school by that point.)

Coach Tony Bennett, for all the love he’s getting from Wahoo Nation, and deservedly so, for leading the program to a #6 final regular-season ranking, still has yet to win a meaningful postseason game at UVa. (And no, we don’t count the NIT as “meaningful,” even at UVa.)

And as much as it pains me to say it, it has to be pointed out that Bennett’s teams have been most noteworthy for one thing: late-season fades.

His first Virginia team started 14-6 before losing 10 of its last 11 to finish under .500. His second team infamously blew a 10-point lead in the final minute in the ACC Tournament against Miami. His third team made the NCAA Tournament, but went 3-6 down the stretch after a 19-4 start, losing in both the first round of the ACC Tournament and the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

And last year, oh, last year. After beating then-#3 Duke on Feb. 28 to apparently seal up an NCAA bid, the 2012-2013 Cavs lost at Boston College and Florida State, had to rally to beat Maryland at home in overtime, and then was blown out by NC State in its first game at the ACC Tournament to snatch an NIT bid from the jaws of an invite to the Big Dance.

This year’s team obviously gets an NCAA bid, and at this point is probably no worse than a #3 seed in March Madness. Win the ACC Tournament, and a case can easily be made for Virginia to get a #1 seed. Lose on Friday to Maryland or Florida State, and UVa. punches its dance ticket on a two-game losing streak, and Wahoo fans everywhere start hitting the panic button.

No pressure in Greensboro. None at all.

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uva basketball team of destiny

Relive a slice of UVA Basketball History!

Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25. The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe, and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

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