A must-see matchup ensued as the #3 Virginia Cavaliers (21-6, 10-5) traveled down south to visit the #12 Miami Hurricanes (22-5, 11-4) to settle who truly wanted the second best record in the ACC. For some reason, I don’t think the ‘Canes were coming into this game with the best feelings. After being annihilated by the Tar Heels last Sat. by 25 points, also with the 66-58 loss they had over a month ago in Charlottesville, there seemed to be no reason for this team to have any confidence coming in; but they did. The Hurricanes blew just past Virginia, 64-61.
When in the face of adversity, UVA has succeeded more times than they have failed. Even after Miami extended their lead to eight right around the three minute mark left in the game, you still felt that the Cavaliers had a chance. Three straight buckets, two by Malcolm Brogdon and one by London Perrantes, put Virginia within one point, with only a minute to play. Then the shot making ability ran out. Virginia started missing easy ones, and Miami started going to the free-throw line. By the final seconds, all the Wahoo fans put their hope in a 40-foot three pointer by Perrantes (which he can sink from time to time) to fall, and needless to say, that hope quickly dashed. The Cavaliers dropped officially to third in the ACC rankings on that missed bucket.
So what does this mean for UVA moving forward? There are certainly many approaches coach Tony Bennett can take, but the unavoidable scenario they’ve put themselves in isn’t favorable. The schedule is running out of games, the mathematical possibility of the Wahoos taking the ACC crown is nearly impossible, and they have the hardest remaining schedule of any team in the country (as measured by BPI).
The bright side is that Virginia has a few days off so they can just understand the game plan for the foreseeable future. All of course until Saturday’s showdown matchup against the Heels.
In other news, Malcolm Brogdon is simply phenomenal. In every critical game this season, he has shown up, and led by example. Take this past game against Miami. He racked up 28 points on 12/18 shooting, including 8/9 in the second half alone, also with four three-pointers. He single-handedly put the team on his back, and got very little support from his running mates. The next leading scorer was Perrantes, who went a horrid 3-11 on the night with only nine total points. Finally, Mike Tobey had many chances to be the unsung hero of the entire night, highlighted by his possible lead-gaining missed layup with 40 seconds to go. A poor collective effort down the stretch cost Virginia in the end.
Believe in Bennett
In circumstances like this, though, the trust is entirely in Tony Bennett. His incredible ability to make necessary adjustments, even at this late juncture in the season, always helps straighten things out on the court. One thing he must do is inspire his players to gain more production on the offensive side of the ball in the weeks to come. Teams like UNC and Louisville are not going to be blow-over wins, so this change must happen for them to have any chance. One thing is for sure: only one player on the team scoring double-digits (what happened on Monday) isn’t going to allow the team to win many ball-games.
College Gameday will be broadcasting live at John Paul Jones Arena for the 6:30 matchup against North Carolina on Saturday. Their live coverage will begin on ESPN at 11am EST.