The University of Virginia men’s basketball team made history on Sunday, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship for the second time in program history and the first time since 1976, and then drawing a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Behind 23 points from Malcolm Brogdon and 15 points from Tournament MVP Joe Harris, the Cavaliers (28-6), who also won the ACC regular season championship, defeated Duke, 72-63, in front of 21,533 fans at the Greensboro Coliseum.
“The city of Charlottesville definitely deserves an ACC Tournament title,” Harris told reporters after the game.
Now the focus turns to chasing an NCAA championship.
On Sunday evening, Virginia was named one of the NCAA Tournament’s four No. 1 seeds, earning the top spot in the East Region. It’s the fourth time that Virginia has been a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance, the most recent being in 1983 during the Ralph Sampson era.
It will be the second NCAA Tournament appearance under coach Tony Bennett for the Cavaliers, who have an all-time record of 22-17 in 17 appearances, including two trips to the Final Four, but no national titles.
UVa will try to improve upon that record Friday, when it takes on No. 16 seed Coastal Carolina in Raleigh, N.C. Tipoff time and the television information for the game will be announced today. Should the Cavaliers advance, they will face either No. 8 seed Memphis (23-9) or No. 9 seed George Washington (24-8) in the next round on March 23.
While the Cavaliers and their fans celebrated in Greensboro, N.C., earlier in the day, things were mostly subdued at bars and restaurants near Grounds on Sunday evening, as snow began to blanket streets and car windows.
Aravinda Kuntimaddi, a UVa biophysics graduate student, was one of the few who braved the elements to catch the selection show.
Kuntimaddi spent the afternoon at Boylan Heights on The Corner with high school friend Nate Johnson, a recent Charlottesville transplant.
He had a simple reaction when UVa was finally announced as the East’s top seed:
“I look forward to UVa going to the Final Four and dominating,” said Kuntimaddi, who grew up in Sterling.
Johnson, a government contractor and Notre Dame alum, said the Wahoos’ spot came as a surprise.
“It definitely is cool to be in the same town as a No. 1 seed,” Johnson said in front of a big screen at Boylan Heights. “I really thought they would be a 2 seed, but I’m happy to ride the wave.”