Yesterday's tournament games included a fantastic game of "who will screw this up the least?" in Syracuse's close loss to Pitt, NC State running out of gas against Duke, an overtime win for GT after an insane 18 point second half comeback, and Hokie domination. Now, after their double-byes, the top 4 seeds of the tournament finally get to play. Assuming the most logical thing for UVa fans to do is to root for the most-beatable teams to win, who should we be rooting for today?
Game 1: #1 UNC vs. #8 Pitt (Noon, ESPN/ACC Network)
The number one seed only played Pitt once this season - winning easily at home, while the Panthers are coming off a thrillingly close win in yesterday's game. If Pitt can keep hitting outside shots and play a more sustained strong defense, they could have a chance today. Regardless, I see zero reason to cheer for Carolina to win this. Verdict: Cheer for Pitt.
Game 2: #4 Notre Dame vs #5 Duke (2:00pm, ESPN/ACC Network)
Tony Bennett's teams seem to always beat up on the Fighting Irish, though I think Notre Dame is playing much better recently than when they visited the JPJ earlier this year. Were UVa to face Duke in the finals, it would be the Blue Devils' 4th game in as many days, so they could be running on empty for sure. However, Duke is clearly the worse match up for the Hoos, whether it be their ability to hit outside shots, favoritism from the refs, or whatever superstitious boogeyman aura they possess. I can see the argument for wanting to play the tired and undermanned lower seed, but I'd rather the Hoos face the Irish in the championship, not only because cheering for Duke is gross, but I'd be more worried about losing that game. Verdict: Cheer for Notre Dame.
Game 3: #2 UVA vs #10 GT (7:00pm, ESPN/ACC Network)
Hmm. Let's cheer for UVa. Verdict: Go Hoos.
Game 4: #3 Miami vs #6 VT (9:00pm, ESPN/ACC Network)
Another tough call, to me. Virginia Tech is playing other-worldly hot right now and facing a streaking team in a tournament is not an advantageous position. Seth Allen seems to give our defense fits, plus if the Hokies hit outside shots well, as they have been doing recently, they can do some damage against the packline defense. However, Miami has more talent, a great coach (not that Buzz Williams isn't proving to be as well), and present plenty of their own match up problems. While the potential of losing to the Hokies in one of the more important games against them...ever...is stressful, I still would feel more confident facing VT. Despite the impact it might have on ticket prices I'm trying to scalp for Friday, I'll be hoping for the Hokies to win this game. Verdict: Don't Cheer for the Hokies, but be more content with them winning than Miami.
Thoughts? Disagreements? Questions? Let me know in the comments, which will also serve as the game thread for today's action.