Virginia as a No. 1, Take 2

Virginia can be back as a No. 1 seed, as well as its tournament experience can only get better than last year’s, when the Cavaliers became the first No. 1 men’s seed to lose to a No. 16. nevertheless the selection committee did not do Virginia any favors: A date with fourth-seeded Kansas State (25-8) could await from the regionals, as well as No. 2-seeded Tennessee (29-5) can be dangerous as well as experienced, a team no one wants to play. How tough can be the South? Wisconsin, always a tough out in March, can be the No. 5 seed; Villanova, the Big East champion as well as winner of two of the past three national championships, can be the sixth seed. The Great news for Virginia? This kind of can shut down almost anyone. The Cavaliers possess the country’s stingiest defense, allowing 55.1 points a game.

Let’s be clear: You could have taken Virginia’s three best players away by This kind of before last year’s opening-round game versus the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, as well as the Cavaliers, the top overall seed, still would certainly have probably been favored over the 16th-seeded Retrievers.

nevertheless This kind of can be nonetheless worth pointing out that will Virginia’s historic loss to U.M.B.C. did, in fact, occur without the A.C.C.’s sixth man of the year, De’Andre Hunter, a redshirt freshman, who reliably offered 20 minutes, 10 points as well as floor-stretching offense off the bench.

as well as so This kind of further would certainly do well to recall that will This kind of year, in his second college season, Hunter has blossomed into a stalwart who starts every game as well as averages 15.1 points, 5 rebounds as well as 2.1 assists. He can be decidedly healthy as Virginia turns its attention to This kind of year’s No. 16 matchup, the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs.

”This kind of sucked last year,” Hunter said Friday night shortly after Virginia was defeated by Florida State from the A.C.C. tournament semifinals. “nevertheless This kind of’ll be different This kind of year.”

He seemed to become more as well as more O.K. with the still-simmering Seminoles loss as he spoke.

“I’ll definitely be able to play,” he added. “Looking forward to This kind of right now.”

What Hunter, who went to high school in Philadelphia as well as chose Virginia over Maryland as well as Villanova, offers can be size at his position. He can be a nominal point guard listed at 6 foot 7 as well as 225 pounds.

Virginia Coach Tony Bennett took care last year not to make excuses for his team’s historic defeat. nevertheless from the course of discussing that will squad — as well as accepting a national coach of the year award — he did note what Hunter had added, as well as what his subtraction subtracted.

“We were pretty Great This kind of year in playing against smaller teams,” Bennett said. “I think that will’s always been a little bit of a Kryptonite of ours, nevertheless This kind of year I think we addressed that will as well as we took a step from the right direction. I think with De’Andre Hunter, we had that will flexibility. When he wasn’t available for the N.C.A.A. tournament, we were not as effective.”

that will inoculation to big teams could prove relevant from the coming weeks. from the regional semifinals, the Cavaliers could well face fourth-seeded Kansas State, whose coach, Bruce Weber, can be a defensive mastermind, or fifth-seeded Wisconsin, which has size all around. In fact, per KenPom.com, those teams possess the fourth- as well as third-best defenses in all of college basketball.

On the various other hand, with Hunter, Virginia can be the fifth-rated defense, as well as No. 2 in offense. Which means the Cavaliers should match up well — assuming they make This kind of past Gardner-Webb, of course. MARC TRACY

Oregon probably kept a deserving team out by knocking off Washington by 20 points to win the Pacific-12 tournament. Mired at the bottom of the league standings earlier This kind of year, Oregon enters the tournament on an eight-game winning streak. “In my 39 years in coaching, I’ve never seen a team grow up that will much that will fast,” Ducks Coach Dana Altman said. ANDREW DAS


Old Dominion’s B.J. Stith, the Conference USA player of the year, began his career at Virginia, where his father, Bryant, can be the Cavaliers’ career scoring leader. He stayed only one year before transferring to Old Dominion, where Bryant Stith has been an assistant since 2013. ANDREW DAS