Had To Have It

The ACC season is still young, but that doesn’t mean that last night’s Virginia-Maryland game wasn’t hugely important. It was the most significant contest of the season so far (just beating out Duke’s game against Miami that the Blue Devils had to win).
Virginia came into this season with reasonable expectations of making the NCAA Tournament. After they beat Arizona to start the year, some folks (OK, only the crazy Jimmy Dykes) were even calling the Cavaliers a darkhorse Final Four squad. Then came the Puerto Rico disaster and the recent three-game losing streak. Heading into their Terps tilt, the Hoos were just 9-6 overall and 1-2 in the ACC. Yesterday, I showed you that the Cavs are currently clearly on the outside looking in at the NCAA Tournament.
They had to beat Maryland.
To add to the drama of the game, Maryland really could have used the win as well. After a great early season, the Terps quickly fell to 0-2 in the ACC. Their shocking loss to Miami at home indicated that there are problems in Garyland. A loss to the Cavs would drop Maryland to 1-3, but on the flip side, a win would put them at .500 and give them a solid road win.
It was a big game.
And Virginia stepped up. From all accounts (my damn TV package didn’t include the game), it was a sloppy, but entertaining affair. As they do in all Cavalier wins, the guards were excellent and were the difference. Virginia built a 20-point first-half lead and then blew that. They built it back up, blew that and then built it back up a third time for the win. Whatever it takes. The Cavaliers haven’t climbed out of their hole yet, but at least they’ve stopped digging (the win helped them jump 7 spots in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings and 30(!) spots in the RPI).
The Richmond Times-Dispatch‘s Bob Lipper had a similar take on this games importance.

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