Virginia could help its ACC seeding in regular-season finale
With the final weekend of the regular season here, the only thing that has been decided in the Atlantic Coast Conference race is the champion. North Carolina has wrapped up its 31st regular-season title in program history, but seeding for next week’s ACC Tournament is still up for grabs.
Virginia rebounded from a rare four-game losing streak to win their last two in a row, including a 10-point upset win over North Carolina on Monday night.
The Cavaliers held the Tar Heels to their lowest point total in 38 years. They now have an opportunity to improve their tournament seed to as high as four, in which they’d receive a double bye in Brooklyn.
More realistically, a win over Pittsburgh on Saturday should give the Cavaliers anywhere from a five to a seven seed.
The Panthers, despite having two of the more prolific scorers in the conference, have sputtered under first-year coach Kevin Stallings. They will find themselves playing on the first day of the ACC Tournament on Tuesday.
Although Pitt has struggled this season, it got its biggest win of the season over Virginia in January with an 88-76 overtime victory in the Steel City.
“We got lost defensively,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said after the loss. “We didn’t keep the ball in front of us, and we didn’t keep them off of the glass.”
Jamel Artis scored a game-high 24 points and running mate Michael Young had 19. Young and Artis have been the consistant scorers for a Pittsburgh team that has three players averaging in double figures, with Young at 20 points per game and Artis at 19 points per game.
“It felt sort of desperate,” Stallings said of his team’s victory in January.
Desperation has turned into realization for this year’s Pittsburgh squad. The Panthers will have nothing to play for but pride and momentum heading into Brooklyn for a shot at pulling off the improbable and winning five straight games and an ACC Tournament title.
Young needs just 10 points against the Cavaliers to become the seventh player in Panthers history to score 1,800 points. Doing so shouldn’t be a problem for the conference’s leading scorer.
Virginia will need to rely on a defense that has come alive again in back-to-back wins over N.C. State and North Carolina to slow down the offensive duo of Young and Artis.
The Panthers knocked down 13 3-pointers in the teams’ first meeting and the Cavaliers will need to limit Pittsburgh’s outside shooting.
Guard London Perrantes will play his last home game in a Virginia uniform. After his start against North Carolina on Monday night, he became the Cavaliers’ career leader in games started.
Perrantes along with freshman Kyle Guy and junior Devon Hall have been the leaders of the Virginia offense lately. All three scored in double figures against North Carolina and look to continue their solid shooting against Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh freshman point guard Justice Kithcart was dismissed from the program on Friday due to detrimental conduct, according to Stallings.