Must-win for UVa. tonight at home vs. N.C. State
UVa. is 14-5 overall, 4-2 in the ACC, owns a win on the road at Wisconsin, and as such would seem to have a decent NCAA Tournament resume. Except that the Cavs also lost at home to Delaware and lost to Old Dominion on a neutral court, a loss that gets worse by the day as the Monarchs are now a woeful 2-17 overall and 0-7 in the CAA.
So tonight’s game against N.C. State becomes as much a must-win game as you will see in late January.
The way the schedule works out this year, Virginia has a grand total of three games against the teams at the top of the ACC – N.C. State (tonight), Miami (Feb. 19 at Miami) and Duke (Feb. 28 in Charlottesville).
Realistically, the ‘Hoos are going to need wins in two of those three games to be able to have any hope at an NCAA bid,
UVa. is currently a distant 109 in the CBSSports.com RPI. Now, that number will improve by osmosis with the rest of the schedule featuring games against ACC opponents, but it’s clear that the plums on that schedule are the big three (Duke is currently #1, Miami is at #3 and N.C. State is #15).
Virginia does have one additional game at North Carolina (currently #37), whom the Cavs knocked off at home 61-52 in their ACC opener, but while a win in Chapel Hill would clearly be a nice addition to the resume, it wouldn’t be the marquee win that could push them over the top.
So that gets us back to tonight and the game with the Wolfpack, the preseason ACC favorite that itself can’t afford to slip up, not as much for an NCAA bid as in terms of its seeding for March Madness.
State (16-4, 5-2 ACC) is in the mix for a #4 regional seed in March, and if the Pack can get hot they can maybe push themselves a little higher, maybe into the solid #4 range and even into consideration for a three.
It’s not quite must-win time for N.C. State, but there’s clearly motivation there for a solid performance tonight on the road against a quality ACC foe.