Bless his tolerant heart,
“I haven’t even thought about that,” he said. “We want to be, hopefully, in a great spot. (But) we’ve got a saying, ‘Blinders on, one game at a time.’ I talk about when
"Sure, if that could be the case, that would be great. I hope we don't (have to play the first day) because our depth isn't there. But I've got guys who will fight, so that's positive."
OK, so the question wasn’t Mike Wallace grilling Nixon or
Winning at Tech gave Virginia sole possession of fourth place in the ACC with three games remaining. The top four teams receive opening-round byes in the conference tournament, and given the Cavaliers' personnel issues, any added rest is welcome.
Virginia had eight scholarship players available against Tech. Among them, starter Joe Harris played with a broken left hand, Malcolm Brogdon with a throbbing left foot.
Assane Sene may return from ankle surgery for the ACC tournament, but even if he does, don't expect him to be galloping up and down the floor for 25 minutes per game.
If the Cavaliers finish among the top four, their path to the ACC tournament championship would be three victories in as many days. If they finish fifth or worse, the road becomes four in four days.
Consider the 20-year history of the four-day ACC tournament. Never has a team won four games. Only three teams that played Thursday –
That '97 Wolfpack squad, Herb Sendek's first at State, used essentially a six-man rotation, and in those four days in Greensboro, Justin Gainey played all 160 minutes, with C.C. Harrison logging 157 and Jeremy Hyatt 150.
The Cavaliers (21-6, 8-5) lead N.C. State (18-10, 7-6) and
* Miami: FSU, at N.C. State,
* N.C. State: at
The Cavaliers certainly face the sterner tests, but they do own tie-breakers over the Hurricanes and Wolfpack courtesy of regular-season victories over both.
Best guess: Virginia earns its first ACC tournament bye since 2007 and, as the fourth seed, awaits the winner of the first-round game between the Nos. 5 and 12 seeds. The Cavaliers' Friday quarterfinal then would tip at about 2:30 p.m., for those plotting early exits from work.
A victory there would send Virginia into a 1 p.m., Saturday semifinal, likely against the No. 1 seed. But as Bennett would remind, that's getting way ahead of ourselves.
Besides, the Cavaliers haven't reached the ACC semifinals since 1995. No other conference program has been absent longer.
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