The Virginia Cavaliers were assumed to be a team that was dead in the water after an extremely disappointing non-conference schedule that finished with a 35 points loss to the Tennessee Volunteers. Unlike most teams that would have let the disappointing losses affect their play negatively, the Cavaliers have exploded since the start of ACC play and look to be a legitimate threat in the conference.
Virginia looked to continue their strong start to the season against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. They didn’t disappoint as the Cavaliers absolutely dominated Notre Dame all night long. At one point in the second half, Virginia led 52-29 against a team that was averaging 73 points a game. Eventually they let off the gas defensively and allowed for the Fighting Irish to come back a little, but still won the game handily by a final score of 68-53 and bringing their record to 16-5.
If the Cavaliers can continue to play like this in the ACC, not only will they make the 2014 NCAA Tournament, but they will have a legitimate chance to win the ACC. The Syracuse Orange are still one of the three remaining undefeated teams in college basketball, but it’s only a matter of time before they lose. At 7-1 in ACC play, Virginia is in second in the conference, and the game between the Cavaliers and Orange could decide the winner of the ACC in regular season.
Even if Virginia was to falter against their toughest remaining opponents, Syracuse and the Pittsburgh Panthers, and beat all of the teams they are supposed to, they should make the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Do not sleep on the Cavaliers. Defense wins championships, and there may not be a better team defensively in all of college basketball.