Have the Virginia Cavaliers Shot Themselves In the Foot?

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

In the matter of a week, the Virginia Cavaliers went from looking like a sure bet to earn an NCAA Tournament bid to suddenly back on the bubble.

After a big upset victory over the Duke Blue Devils, Virginia has stumbled, losing their next two contests to a pair of teams many believe they should have beaten.

Losses to the Boston College Eagles and most recently, the Florida State Seminoles, have suddenly left questions as to whether or not the Cavaliers will be dancing come the middle of March. A week ago they looked guaranteed to earn themselves a tournament bid, however, the Duke victory is now in the back of the minds of the selection committee and has been replaced by a pair of disappointing losses.

Virginia still has one more game before they close out their regular season when they host the Maryland Terrapins on Mar. 9. The game now becomes the definition of a ‘must-win’ game for the Cavaliers, as a three-game losing streak to close out the year will certainly eliminate all the good the Blue Devils victory created. Not to mention it would also put significant pressure on Virginia, to at least reach the ACC Tournament finals in hopes of earning that NCAA Tournament bid.

At this stage, if the Cavaliers are able to defeat Maryland, they likely wouldn’t need an outstanding showing in the conference tournament. With wins over Duke, the North Carolina Tar Heels (Jan. 6), and North Carolina State Wolfpack (Jan. 29), Virginia has proven they can beat the top teams in the ACC. They might not have defeated the Miami (FL) Hurricanes, but in their only meeting this season the Cavaliers took them down to the wire before ultimately falling 54-50 on Feb. 19.

With wins over the state of North Carolina’s best, along with a so-so non-conference schedule that includes wins over the Wisconsin Badgers and Tennessee Volunteers, the Cavaliers’ tournament resume certainly appears deserving of earning a bid.

Unfortunately, the selection committee can sometimes be cruel and operate under a ‘what have you done for me lately’ mindset. A three game losing streak to end the year could be all that is needed to keep Virginia on the couch when first round action begins.

That can all change, and the momentum can turn back into the Virginia’s favor, as long as they take care of business against the Terrapins.

Michael covers ACC and Big East basketball along with the NBA and NHL for Rant Sports, you can follow him on Twitter @MichaelxRoberts

 

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