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4 Reasons Why They Can Win: Virginia

Virginia Cavaliers NCAA

I know what you’re thinking. You see the Virginia Cavaliers as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and you’re thinking, “Oh here we go again. Another early-round exit for an overrated team.”

While Virginia has been a very good program the past three years, the Cavaliers have severely underachieved during the NCAA Tournament. The Cavaliers won the ACC Tournament in 2014, were given a No. 1 seed in the East Region and promptly lost to Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans in the Sweet 16.

Last year, they were a No. 2 seed in the East Region and lost in the Round of 32 to, you guessed it, Tom Izzo and the Spartans.

So what’s different? Why will Virginia, who enters the tournament at +1200 at online shop Bovada to win the whole thing, succeed this year while previous editions of the team failed so miserably during March Madness?

Malcolm Brogdon

Many feel Virginia’s senior star is one of the best and most complete players in the country and, let’s be honest here, he is. Brogdon is in the midst of a wonderful season in which he is averaging 18.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game and has been crowned the ACC player of the year and defensive player of the year.

In big spots however, Brogdon has struggled and he will be out to rectify that this year. In the ACC final, he was 6 for 22 for 15 points in Virginia’s 61-57 loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels. Versus the Spartans in last year’s tournament, he was 3 for 12 for just nine points en route to elimination. In 2013, he was just 4 of 14 but did manage 17 points as the Cavaliers lost to the Spartans.

Brogdon will be playing with a chip on his shoulder and will do what he can to will the Cavs through the tournament.

A bet against the Cavaliers is a bet against the best player in the country.

To Be The Best, You’ve Got To Beat The Best

If you’re going to win the whole thing, you’re going to have to face the best that the country has to offer. The Cavaliers have faced a slew of top 25 teams this season and have collected the most wins (8) of any team not named the Kansas Jayhawks.

Furthermore, the Cavaliers were given the country’s second-hardest schedule and had the No. 3 overall RPI.

It should be mentioned that Virginia is not without its bad losses. The Cavaliers lost to George Washington and had a spell earlier this season where they lost three times in four games to Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Florida State.

The most recent loss to the Tar Heels in the ACC final would have been a bitter pill to swallow, but this group of Cavaliers has the mettle to use that as motivation moving forward.

Until We Meet Again

One look at the Midwest bracket in this year’s tourney shows that the No. 2 seed belongs to none other than the Michigan State Spartans.

That means these two schools, should everything go according to plan, will meet at the Elite 8. This is the potential matchup that college basketball fans will have circled on their calendar as it will be the revenge spot that Brogdon, head coach Tony Bennett and the rest of the team would have wanted.

Let’s not discredit the Spartans. They have been a good team all year long and Denzel Valentine is certainly one of the top players in the country. But you have to give the edge to Virginia if these two do in fact meet in the Elite 8. Compare meetings versus the top 50: Virginia went 9-3 while Sparty went just 7-5. Furthermore, Virginia’s non-conference strength of schedule was ranked 38 while Michigan State was ranked 158.

While people will debate the merits of Virginia being given the No. 1 seed over Michigan State will rage on for the next couple of days, most stats point to the decision being correct.

Let’s just be thankful that we could get this matchup come March 27. Funny how that worked out.

Slow Your Roll

We all know how good Virginia is defensively and one thing they do better than anyone is play the game at their own, leisurely pace.

According to TeamRankings.com, Virginia averages just 62.4 possessions per game which ranks as the fewest in college basketball.

Their stingy, almost-impenetrable defense slows down opponents on one end of the floor while Brogdon, Anthony Gill and London Perrantes play patiently enough on the other end of the floor to grind opposing defenses until they find the perfect shot.

While we’re here, this is a good reminder that Virginia could be a hot UNDER play in the tournament. The UNDER has cashed in 11 of Virginia’s previous 13 games heading into the tournament.

Virginia is incredibly disciplined, features one of the brightest stars in the tournament, boasts a terrific defense and has a big enough of chip on its shoulder that this could be the season it finally silences the doubters.

Click here for 4 reasons why North Carolina can win.

Click here for 4 reasons why Kansas can win.

Click here for 4 reasons why Oregon can win.