Virginia takes new No. 1 ranking to Miami (Feb 12, 2018)
Virginia's home loss to rival Virginia Tech on Saturday didn't faze either the NCAA Men's Basketball Committee or media voters in the weekly Associated Press poll.
The Cavaliers (23-2, 12-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) were awarded the No. 1 spot in preliminary NCAA Tournament seedings released Sunday and will take their first No. 1 ranking in the poll in 36 years into their game Tuesday night against Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.
The Hurricanes (18-6, 7-5 ACC) were not as fortunate. Their weekend loss at Boston College ended their winning streak at three games and knocked them from the No. 25 spot they held in the poll a week ago.
Virginia's loss to the Hokies ended a 15-game winning streak for the Cavaliers, who had to rally late to send the game into the extra period and then led by five points with 39.1 seconds left.
But guard Davon Hall missed two of three free throws, including the first of a one-and-one, while the Hokies scored on their final three possessions for the 61-60 win. The Cavaliers had a last chance, but guard Ty Jerome missed a long desperation attempt as time ran out.
"We almost stole that game," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "But that's what it would have been, stealing that game. They outplayed us. I told our guys, 'I liked some of the shots and the plays you made and stretches of stops to get back in that game, to put it to overtime,' but even when we had the lead one time we fell down.
"We missed some free throws and had a couple miscues. You can't do that if you're going to steal one."
Despite the loss, the Cavaliers hold the top spot since Dec. 21, 1982.
The Cavaliers bounced back from their first loss, 68-61 at West Virginia in early December, after an 11-day break with an 80-60 romp past Davidson their next outing but now face a quick turnaround and much tougher opponent this time.
"We are going to have to fight like crazy every game," Bennett said. "Everybody is capable of beating everybody in this league, and that is reality. If you are little off it is not enough."
Miami had won five of its previous six outings before the road loss to Boston College and had won all three games since losing its No. 2 scorer and top rebounder, guard Bruce Brown, to a foot injury. Different players had been stepping up to fill the void, even 6-foot-10 redshirt freshman backup forward Sam Waardenburg.
Waardenburg hit three key 3-pointers in a win over Wake Forest and two more in 16 minutes against the Eagles. Waardenburg hadn't played in a six-game stretch in late December-early January but has averaged 6.0 points off the bench over the last five games.
"I can stretch the floor out, give lanes to these guys (the guards) to get to the rim," Waardenburg said. "I can set screens. I can do a lot."
Miami coach Jim Larranaga is expected to return to the sideline after spending the BC game in the locker room with an apparent case of the flu.
The Hurricanes are 7-1 against Virginia in Coral Gables. Virginia's only road win in the series was an 89-80 double overtime win on Jan. 3, 2015.