Top-seeded Cavaliers to battle Seminoles in ACCs
Posted March 14, 2014
Greensboro, N.C. — The top-seeded and sixth-ranked Virginia Cavaliers finally get to work in the postseason Friday, as they take on the ninth-seeded Florida State Seminoles in quarterfinal action of the ACC Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum (12 p.m., WRAL-TV).
The winner of this game will take on either North Carolina or Pittsburgh in Saturday's semifinal round.
While many thought Virginia would eventually fall off its torrid pace, the Cavaliers did the opposite, getting better as the season wore on. The team won 13 straight games entering the season finale (loss to Maryland), including a 75-56 rout of Syracuse to capture only its second outright ACC crown in school history and first since 1981.
The team's 25-6 mark is the best through 31 games since the 1981-82 campaign.
What Virginia does better than anyone else in the country is play stifling defense. The Cavaliers lead the nation in scoring defense (55.4 ppg), holding foes to a meager 38.4 percent shooting. The team also enjoys positives in both rebounding (+6.5) and turnover (+1.4) margins.
Scoring isn't a priority thanks to the stellar defense, but the team's 66.3 ppg average (285th nationally) was more than enough this season. The Cavaliers are led by a pair of guards in Malcolm Brogdon (12.6 ppg) and Joe Harris (11.4 ppg). Forward Akil Mitchell (7.1 ppg) isn't much of a scorer, but is the team's top rebounder (6.9 rpg).
Brogdon was an All-ACC Second-Team selection, Harris was named to the Third- Team and Mitchell was Honorable Mention.
The Seminoles won four of the last six games of the regular season just to pull even in ACC play (9-9), but still received a first-round bye and carried their momentum into Thursday's second-round action, ending Maryland's stay in the ACC with a 67-65 nail-biter. With the win, Leonard Hamilton's squad moved within one victory of another 20-win season.
Florida State holds a 22-20 edge in the all-time series with Virginia, but the Cavaliers are looking for the three-game sweep after posting a pair of 12- point victories over the Seminoles in the regular season.
Boris Bojanovsky's dunk with under a second to play proved to be the difference, as FSU ended Maryland's tenure in the ACC with a two-point decision on Thursday. Ian Miller led the way for FSU with 17 points, Aaron Thomas finished with 14 points and Bojanovsky recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds in the Seminoles' win.
A defensive-minded squad, the Seminoles ranked sixth in the conference in scoring defense (65.9 ppg) this year and second in field-goal percentage defense (.397). There aren't any prolific scoring threats on the roster, but the team entered the postseason with three double-digit scorers in Thomas (14.1 ppg), Miller (13.7 ppg) and Okaro White (13.3 ppg).