College Basketball Road Trip: Virginia hoists ACC trophy for first time since ’81
It was an exciting Saturday afternoon in Charlottesville, Va., where the Virginia Cavaliers defeated Syracuse, 75-56, to clinch the ACC regular season crown. A sea of orange and navy blue rushed the court to celebrate once the final buzzer sounded, despite a long-winded warning from the PA announcer at the one-minute mark to remain in the stands.
Security guards moved into place to prevent the mayhem, a precautionary measure from the school, but it would’ve taken an army to keep the adrenaline-filled students from parading down to the court on this day. (However, I will say it was one of the most organized court-stormings I’ve seen. Everyone scampered down in an orderly fashion, rather than piling on top of one another and anyone else in the way. Well done, guys.)
The 19-point victory was Virginia’s largest over a top-five opponent in more than a decade and it extended the Cavaliers’ current win streak to 13 games, the longest ACC win streak in school history. It was the perfect send-off for the team’s three seniors, who combined for 22 points including a late three-pointer by former walk-on Thomas Rogers. The roar after Rogers’ shot only added more fuel to the fire as the 14,593 fans in attendance attempted to blow the roof off John Paul Jones Arena.
“It was special how intense it was in there and the passion you got from it,” Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said of the home crowd. “Last time I heard it that loud I was at the Taylor Swift concert. I remember I sat there and there were 14,000 teenage girls screaming and I was like, ‘I wonder if we can get it like this for a game.’”
Those 14,000 screaming girls weren’t even alive the last time Virginia won the outright ACC regular season title. Taylor Swift wasn’t either. The year was 1981, Terry Holland was at the helm, and Ralph Sampson was the College Basketball Player of the Year. That was 33 years ago.
To celebrate Virginia’s long-awaited rise back to the top, what do you say we fire up the Fox Sports College Basketball Road Trip time machine to take us back to the last time the Cavs hoisted the trophy.
A few fun 1981 facts:
• Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes” was the No. 1 song on the charts.
• Ronald Reagan was in the first year of his first term as President of the United States.
• MTV launched.
• The Oakland Raiders won the Super Bowl.
• A gallon of gas was $1.25.
• The Kardashians weren’t a thing.
• INTERNET was mentioned for the first time.
• "The Smurfs" made its television debut.
• John Belushi was still alive.
• An archaeologist named Indiana Jones was hired by the government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis.
• Did I mention the Kardashians weren’t a thing?
As you can see, it has been a long, long time since the ACC regular season hardware made its way to Charlottesville. Coach Bennett has done an amazing job turning the program around in his five seasons and the Cavs don’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.
Enjoy it, Wahoo Nation. Crank up Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” and party like it’s 1981.