The Virginia women's basketball team finds itself sitting in sixth place in the ACC with two conference games remaining. They have a 7-7 conference record and a 19-9 overall record. Their final two games - the home finale versus Wake Forest tonight at 6:30pm and the season finale on Sunday at Florida State - will likely determine their post-season fate. Win both and they're almost certainly in the dance with a 9-7 conference record and 21-9 overall record. Anything less and its left up to fate.
Regardless of the outcome, I personally feel that Joanne Boyle's first season has been a success. She took a squad that was very similar to last year's squad and has already gotten 3 more wins (2 more conference wins), five fewer losses (two fewer conference losses). Last year's squad advanced to the quarterfinals of the WNIT before falling to the Charlotte 49ers at home, 74-79. This year's squad looks poised to do damage in a different post-season tournament.
Let's take a quick look at how they got here, and whats in store for these two final games. Check back in after the break.
Quick Look Back
The Cavaliers' conference record, sitting at .500 as it is, doesn't exactly scream "time to dance!" But looking at the individual games, you see some interesting trends.
Here are their conference losses: @ #7 Duke by 11, vs #23 UNC by 5 in double-overtime, @ #5 Maryland by 7, vs #10 Miami by 3, @ #24 Georgia Tech by 10, @ #24 UNC by 8 and vs #7 Maryland by 17.
Notice something there? Yep, all seven losses in conference have been to teams ranked in the top 25 at the time. Adding in their two non-conference losses and you've got vs #22 Texas (in Hawaii) and also vs Cal (in Hawaii). The lone loss to an unranked team is against Boyle's former team. And while the Bears weren't ranked at the time, they are currently in the top 30 in the RPI.
In other words, to this point in the season, Virginia has no bad losses.
They do have one signature win: A five point overtime win over then #3 Tennessee. The Lady Vols are #4 in the RPI. If that's not a signature win, I don't know what is.
There's also at least one other good win thrown in there: A home win over in-state foe James Madison. The Dukes aren't ranked, but they are in the top 40 in RPI.
The Cavaliers host Wake Forest tonight at 6:30pm. The event is the final home game of the season, so it will be senior night for team leaders Chelsea Shine and Ariana Moorer. Shine is sitting at 999 points entering the game, meaning her first bucket of the night will make her a member of the exclusive 1000 point club at Virginia. She's 170 points shy of entering the top 20 all-time scorers. It seems unlikely she'll reach that level, but she will certainly come close.
Wake Forest is one game behind the Cavaliers in the conference record at 6-8, but their overall record is just 16-11. Staying ahead of the Demon Deacons in the conference standings is a serious need if the women want to make a good case for the Dance. This is the first meeting between the two teams this season.
On Sunday, the Hoos travel down to Tallahassee to take on the Seminoles. FSU is 1.5 games behind the Cavaliers at 6-9 in conference, but their overall record is much worse than the Demon Deacons' record. The 'Noles are sitting at 14-15 overall and need a win over Virginia just to get to .500. The Cavaliers beat the Seminoles 62-52 at JPJ back on January 29th. They'll need to repeat that feat to get to the NCAAs.