Virginia has been one of the most interesting teams to follow in college basketball this season. Early in the year, the Cavaliers had a surprising loss to San Francisco in Bubbleville. Many questioned the scoring ability of Virginia, again, as they were billed to have another Final Four-type team.
But once ACC play started, they were one of the frontrunners for historically the best conference in the country. Some no-sweat victories had many of those questions out of mind.
With Selection Sunday less than 10 days away, a more critical look at the Cavaliers' tournament resume (following some unexpected losses) shows that it's really thin.
Let's get one thing clear - Virginia is going to be in the NCAA Tournament. They're a lock even if they lose out. A second-place standing in the ACC with a 16-6 (12-4 ACC) record affords you that much no matter the rest of the out-of-conference results. Just two weeks ago, though, Virginia was thought of as a borderline No. 2 seed. The NCAA's top 16 bracket preview reveal had the Cavs as the top No. 3 seed in the country.
Losing three straight before a win against Miami bumped them far down projections. As things stand, bracketologists have Virginia as a No. 5 seed. Looking at it deeper though, that may not be the end of their downside.
ESPN: No. 5 seed
CBS: No. 5 seed
SB Nation: Not listed
Bracketville: No. 6 seed
The Cavaliers do not have a record above .500 in Quadrant 1 games (3-4). And since the Selection Committee says that the Quadrant/ NET system is supposed to be the biggest factor when deciding the NCAA Tournament teams, it's an issue. It's evident in past brackets, that the committee values who wins bigger games.
Now, this isn't the end of the world as Texas, West Virginia, Kansas are all seeded higher than Virginia and also have losing records in Q1. What's troublesome is that they only have three victories there - at Clemson, at Georgia Tech and at N.C. State. It's very possible that the N.C. State win could drop to Q2 before Selection Sunday.
None of those wins are too impressive, partly that is due to the underperforming ACC as a whole. Of those three wins, only one is against a sure-fire NCAA Tournament team. Looking at the complete resume, they only have two wins against a team that is expected to be in March Madness... Yikes.
Teams behind them on the seed line, not only have more wins in Q1, but more opportunities. Oklahoma (a 5/6 seed) has five Q1 wins, with another chance this week. So does Texas Tech, and Wisconsin has four.
Where normally being in the ACC is a strength -- and the conference tournament begetting more quality games -- it won't have the same impact as teams in the Big Ten and Big 12 this year. Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Wisconsin all will have ample opportunities to surpass Virginia based on them likely getting one or two Q1 games in the conference tournament alone. The Cavs may not get that chance until the Semifinal round or later in the ACC.
What hurts UVA more than anything, is their loss to San Francisco (currently Q3), but it's also where they could climb up. A run by the Dons in the WCC Tournament this week would move that loss up to Q2 and take away the 'bad loss' blemish on the Cavs' resume. It may not seem like much but metrically that's an important distinction.
In fact a lot of what can affect Virginia is out of their control. The aforementioned N.C. State win, the SF loss, whether they get a Q1 opportunity in the quarter-final round of the ACC Tournament are all based on what other teams do.
It's not an ideal position to be in. Every team wants to control their fate.
But barring an ACC Championship Game run, there's nothing drastic the Cavaliers can do themselves to their seed line. Like many others, they just have to take care of their own business and then sit back and hope some other teams give them a boost.