Virginia: NCAA, or NIT?
The speculation begins in the wake of Virginia’s listless 75-56 loss to North Carolina State on Friday in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals. What is up next for the Cavs? Did they do just enough to earn an invite to the 2013 NCAA Tournament – or is UVa. NIT-bound?
“What will be will be,” said Virginia coach Tony Bennett, whose squad seemed to have locked in a berth two weeks ago when the ‘Hoos knocked off potential top national seed Duke in Charlottesville.
Losses in three of their four March games – on the road at Boston College and Florida State, against N.C. State in the ACC Tournament, sandwiched around a gutty overtime win last Sunday at home against Maryland – might have the Cavs on the other side of the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Early-season losses against George Mason, Delaware and Old Dominion stand out as the pockmarks on what would otherwise have to be considered a solid NCAA resume. Virginia was 4-3 against teams in the RPI Top 50 and 8-4 against the RPI Top 100, including wins against two nonconference NCAA bubble teams, Wisconsin and Tennessee.
“We have some quality wins, we have some bad losses, and who knows what will happen. I’m sure people won’t give us much of a chance. The committee will make their decision,” Bennett said.
Bennett and his players insisted that the pressure of trying to solidify a bid didn’t weigh on the team’s performance against N.C. State.
“We had the right mindset going in,” Bennett said.
“I thought our coaching staff and everybody around us did a good job of being prepared and focusing on just the game at hand,” said Joe Harris, a first-team All-ACC selection who finished with 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting against the Pack.
“I felt like our team was focused on this game at hand. We all had ACC Tournament title as our goal. Whatever happens happens. You can’t worry about that. You have to get yourself ready to play,” said Akil Mitchell, who led Virginia with 19 points.