Virginia head coach Tony Bennett met with the media on Sunday night following the announcement of the NCAA tournament bracket, sharing the most up-to-date information on where the Hoos stand heading into this suddenly-tumultuous postseason. The Cavaliers had to withdraw from the ACC tournament on Friday before the semifinals due to a positive Covid test. According to Bennett, the “majority of the team” is in quarantine with contact tracing, but if they continue getting negative test results, they can travel to Indianapolis on Friday for their game against Ohio on Saturday.
Bennett opened the press conference by reading a text message from Ronnie Wideman, the Associate AD for Basketball Operations. The text, which Bennett said he received just before walking in for the Zoom call, highlighted how improbable the whole season was and how fortunate the team is to even have a chance to play in the postseason. Virginia finished atop the ACC standings for the third time in four years, beating Syracuse with a thrilling buzzer-beater before having to withdraw.
The team obviously couldn’t watch the selection show as a team as a result of the quarantine, but they virtually heard their name called “together” over Zoom. There are a lot of things up in the air, but Bennett is remaining positive. The situation is not ideal, but the Cavaliers had a positive test on effectively the last day you could while still meeting NCAA medical protocols.
“Young people are so resilient,” Bennett said of his team. “You see that in a lot of ways. They want that opportunity. Friday, you could see the look in their eyes. So I think this breathed life into them. They’re certainly hungry, certainly looking forward to that chance in Indy.”
Virginia won’t be able to practice or travel until Thursday at the earliest, with the potential of traveling to Indianapolis on Friday. The affected player will not be able to participate in the first weekend, but likely will be able to rejoin the team before the Sweet 16 if Virginia wins.
Coach Bennett summed up the situation — and entire season — pretty well, saying, “It’s unique, but at least we have the chance.”
Virginia will square off against Ohio on Saturday, with the Cavaliers as the early 10.5-point favorites.