The Virginia Cavaliers dropped another disappointing contest to the N.C. State Wolfpack, 77-63. Now 11-8 overall and 5-4 in ACC play, time is running short on this team’s chance to make a run at NCAA Tournament contention.
Another loss stunts momentum
It’s become a consistent pattern by now. The ‘Hoos will win a few solid games, appear to be turning a corner, and then proceed to drop a stinker of a loss which stunts any of that building momentum. After the ‘Hoos took care of business on the road at Pitt, this game was an opportunity to keep rolling in the right direction.
As Virginia entered the game 5-3 in the ACC with the two teams tied at the top of the conference sitting at 6-2, winning this game would’ve been significant for this team’s chances of competing at the top of the conference.
Now at 5-4 in the ACC, UVA is very much in the muck of the conference. And — with every additional loss — it’s becoming harder and harder to envision a path to the NCAA Tournament that doesn’t include winning the ACC Tournament.
N.C. State was on fire
While UVA had plenty of breakdowns defensively, N.C. State seemingly couldn’t miss all game and repeatedly hit incredibly difficult, contested shots. The Wolfpack finished 30-50 from the field and 12-22 from deep.
This was undoubtedly a poor performance from the ‘Hoos. But they aren’t solely responsible for just how out of control this game became. N.C. State’s big three of Dereon Seabron, Terquavion Smith, and Jericole Hellems combined for 54 points on the night as each of them was practically unstoppable against Virginia.
Sure, there’s still plenty of room for the Wahoo defense to improve and that is going to be necessary for this team to make a late season run. But, N.C. State still does deserve credit for the offensive showing it put on.
This team doesn’t have the talent to consistently hang
As this team continues to bounce back and forth between wins and losses, that inability to string together wins has been due to a lack of consistency among this roster. Certain guys step up in particular games but tend to take a step back in others.
At this point — with just nine games remaining in regular season play — there doesn’t seem to be another answer other than that this team simply lacks the talent in order to be truly competitive in the ACC.
Individuals like Reece Beekman, Jayden Gardner, and Armaan Franklin all have the potential to have big games and be good players in this league. It’s just that this roster doesn’t have the depth of developed talent or experience to be at the top of the ACC.
It’s time to play the kids
With that said, it’s about time that the Virginia coaching staff gives guys like Igor Milicic Jr., Taine Murray, and Carson McCorkle more opportunities. The definition of insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing and hoping for a different result.
Considering how far we are into the season and the plethora of time the more experienced guys have had to mesh, better results should have arrived by now. But they simply haven’t. While Virginia should absolutely continue to look to be competitive, a balance can and should be struck between winning now and giving the stars of the future chances to develop in real game action.