In the first round of the NCAA tournament, the 4-seed Virginia Cavaliers will play the 13-seed Furman Paladins on Thursday in Orlando. The Cavaliers earned the 4 seed in the South region.
Furman, led by seniors Jalen Slawson and Mike Bothwell, earned an auto-bid after winning the SoCon tournament. They finished 15-3 in conference play and earned the top overall seed in their tournament.
The Paladins have a potent offense: they finished the season shooting 59.1% from two-point range, the highest percentage in the NCAA. They ranked 33rd in KenPom’s offensive efficiency. However, they struggled on the defensive end, with just KenPom’s 183rd-best defense. They also suffered defeats to High Point, The Citadel, and Western Carolina during the regular season, and are just the 89th-best team in the country according to KenPom.
If Virginia were to advance past the first round, they would face the winner of San Diego St. and Charleston. Other top seeds in the South region include #1 Alabama, #2 Arizona, and #3 Baylor.
The Cavaliers finished the season 25-7 (15-5 in ACC play), earning a share of the ACC regular-season title along with the Miami Hurricanes. They won two games in the ACC tournament over North Carolina and Clemson before losing the ACC championship game to Duke Saturday night.
Virginia has not won an NCAA tournament game since the 2019 national championship against Texas Tech. In that timespan, the 2020 NCAA tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19, the 2021 ‘Hoos fell to 13-seed Ohio in the first round, and the 2022 Cavaliers failed to make the NCAA tournamnent. The ‘Hoos will look to break that streak in the first round.