By Ed Morgans @writered21 on March 17, 2014
The Virginia Cavaliers needed a myriad of things to happen to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. But after a crazy couple days of upsets and with Virginia's ACC Tournament championship, it all came together for the Cavaliers to be the No. 1 seed in the East Region. UVA is the first ACC team other than North Carolina or Duke to be a No. 1 seed in more than 10 years. Here are five reasons why Virginia deserved that top seed.
Head coach Tony Bennett came to Virginia needing to change the culture and having to find players who matched his well-proven system. Some of his early recruits didn't buy in and left the school. Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell stayed. Their combined offensive and defensive play along with Virginia's epic success leave them as legends in Charlottesville.
The Cavaliers lead the nation in scoring defense at a mere 55.3 PPG, which is downright nasty in the era of quick tempos and three-pointers. Teams are lucky to shoot 45 percent vs. Virginia. UVA gave up just 54 PPG in the ACC Tournament and held Florida State, Pittsburgh and Duke to a combined 39 percent from the field. Justin Anderson's game-ending block of Pittsburgh's game-tying three-point attempt was a signature moment in the ACC Tournament.
Led by freshman point guard London Perrantes, Virginia rarely turns the ball over and runs 25 to 30 seconds each possession before finding a quality shot. Perrantes' assist-to-turnover ratio for the season was a tremendous 3.4:1, and in ACC play (including the tournament), it was nearly 4:1. In 21 games vs. ACC opponents, Perrantes had just 22 turnovers, including nine ACC games with no miscues at all.
As Dick Vitale pointed out on ESPN numerous times throughout Sunday and Monday, everyone should have known how good a coach Tony Bennett was when he won 69 games at Washington State, a Pac-12 hoops outburst long lost to the world. At UVA, Bennett is 104-59 in this his fifth season. Virginia's win total has increased every year under Bennett. This year's 28 wins are the most since Ralph Sampson's senior season in 1982-83.
With the additions of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, the ACC was to be a power this year. While the Big 10 and maybe Big 12 might have been better, the league was no slouch. But Virginia dominated the league, starting 3-0 with three blowouts, then winning 13 straight after falling by four at Duke. At 16-2, UVA won the regular season by two games. In beating Duke in the ACC final, UVA beat every ACC school at least once this season.
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