Virginia senior Joe Harris is one of the best college scorers in the nation. He is a tenacious driver to the basket, can hit shots from anywhere on the court and is a team leader through his play and emotion.
Harris can carry Virginia extremely far. That is, if the Cavaliers do not suffer another set of excruciating upsets like last season. If the Cavaliers want to to be taken seriously by NCAA tournament selection committee members, they can not have a single bad loss come March.
Virginia defeated Davidson 70-57 Saturday and should continue to win every out-of-conference game easily — Wisconsin aside — until ACC play begins. Should is the operative word because the Cavaliers have been susceptible to early-season crushing upsets. Last season, Virginia had the roster to make the NCAA tournament, but with losses to Delaware and George Mason showing up on their tournament resume, was denied a bid to the Big Dance.
Virginia can not — and should not — have these kind of losses this season. Harris and senior forward running-mate Akil Mitchell must not let this happen. The two players have taken their blows being part of three teams that did not reach the NCAA tournament. The 2012-13 season was the most heartbreaking. UVA has only itself to blame and this season, the Cavaliers must do everything they can to not put an NCAA tourney bid into the hands of the selection committee.
Harris and Mitchell do not want to end their college careers with an NIT tournament as the highlight.
Virginia will be tested when Wisconsin comes to town on December 4. Other than that ACC-Big Ten match-up, UVA does not have another ranked opponent until conference play begins. The Cavaliers should take advantage of this and head into the ACC schedule with no more than two losses.