Virginia’s win over Pittsburgh: Good enough

UVA basketballDespite a near-disastrous collapse in the final four minutes, Virginia’s trip to the Steel City ended successfully for the Cavaliers with a 59-56 win over Pittsburgh.

Three points or 30, the win over the Panthers moved them three full games in front of the pack (OK, specifically the Wolfpack) in the league standings in the race for a double-bye in the upcoming ACC tournament.

With N.C. State falling against Florida State on Saturday, the Cavaliers picked up a full game over the Wolfpack, who are currently tied for fifth with Syracuse and Clemson.

Considering how the final four games of the regular season unfolds for  Virginia, the win, regardless how shaky it looked, and was, could prove the difference at the conclusion of regular season league play.

Taking a closer look at UVA’s stretch run

UVA has two games on the road left, at Virginia Tech and at Miami. Both games Virginia should win. The game in Blacksburg is a revenge contest for the Hokies after being annihilated in Charlottesville 65-39 in early January.

Virginia Tech, after playing above expectations for half the season, has fallen on tough times the last month of the season, having lost seven of eight games.

Tech was blasted 88-66 at Duke Saturday in a game that was not that close.

The Hokies have little to play for the remainder of the season, and the Cavaliers can expect a sold-out, voracious crowd awaiting them Wednesday evening. A victory over UVA would provide Tech a huge momentum-builder heading into its offseason.

After the trip to Southwest Virginia, the Cavaliers return home to face Duke in the only meeting this season between the two teams.

Duke responded soundly after the loss at North Carolina State with the thumping of Tech. The Blue Devils are battling Florida State for the regular-season title and are one of the few teams in the country that can match the Cavaliers’ defensive intensity.

Virginia may have to make this an epic rock fight to stand a chance. There’s little hope the Cavaliers can or would try to match Duke’s offensive prowess.

Following Duke, the Cavaliers will have their final regular-season road game at Miami. Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum in every aspect.


The Hurricanes are a sure lock for playing in a dreaded Tuesday game of the ACC Tournament. The atmosphere in the Watsco Center (capacity 7,900) will be nonexistent. Any energy the Cavaliers need will have to be self-generated, which could work against UVA.

Virginia concludes the regular season at home against Louisville, currently sitting at the top of the league standings. The Cardinals have had some hiccups during conference play, but have been among the nation’s top five teams for most of the year. The Cards are quite capable of ending the Cavaliers regular season with a thud.

N.C. State has an away rematch with Duke left, plus games against bottom feeders UNC, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest.

Syracuse may actually have a chance at running the table in its last four games. The Orange host Pittsburgh, UNC and travel to Boston College and Miami.

Clemson closes with two games against Georgia Tech, a home contest with Florida State and a road outing at Virginia Tech.

For Virginia, the win over Pittsburgh clearly placed the Cavaliers in the driver’s seat for top-four seeding in the upcoming tournament in Greensboro.

While the victory was anything from perfect, it was good enough. Business trip: successful.

Story by Scott German

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