UVa Plays Florida in NCAA Tournament on Friday
OMAHA, Neb.-The Virginia men’s basketball team plays its first NCAA Tournament game since 2007 on Friday (March 16) in Omaha, Neb., when the Cavaliers play Florida in a second round game in the West Region at CenturyLink Center Omaha. The game is scheduled to begin at 2:10 p.m. Eastern time.
UVa is the No. 10 seed in the West Region and enters the game with an overall record of 22-9. Virginia finished 9-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and tied for fourth in the conference standings during the regular season. The Cavaliers are coming off a 67-64 loss to NC State in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament March 9 in Atlanta, Ga.
Florida is the No. 7 seed and brings an overall record of 23-10 into Friday’s game. The Gators are coming off a 74-71 loss to Kentucky in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament March 10 in New Orleans, La.
The winner of the Virginia-Florida game will meet either No. 2 seed Missouri or No. 15 seed Norfolk State in the third round.
The other pod of teams competing in Omaha include teams from the Midwest Region. Those games are No. 2 seed Kansas vs. No. 15 seed Detroit and No. 7 seed St. Mary’s vs. No. 10 seed Purdue.
The Virginia Sports Radio Network and Westwood One will broadcast Friday’s Virginia-Florida game. TNT will televise the game.
Virginia is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007 when the Cavaliers advanced to the second round in Columbus, Ohio. UVa was a No. 4 seed in the South Region that season and defeated Albany 84-57 in the first round before losing 77-74 to Tennessee in the second round.
This is Virginia’s 17th NCAA Tournament appearance and the Cavaliers have compiled an overall record of 22-16 in the tournament. UVa advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four in 1981 and 1984.
Virginia and Florida have met just once in men’s basketball. The Cavaliers defeated the Gators 62-56 in the semifinals of the 1992 National Invitation Tournament at Madison Square Garden. UVa went on to win the NIT Championship that season with an 81-76 overtime win over Notre Dame.
UVa head coach Tony Bennett and members of the Virginia team met with media representatives late Thursday morning (March 15) at CenturyLink Center and then had a 40-minute practice session starting at noon Central time. The Cavaliers then worked out at Creighton University.
Senior forward Mike Scott, a first-team All-ACC selection this season and a third-team All-America selection by Sporting News, leads UVa in scoring and rebounding. Scott is averaging 18.1 points and 8.4 rebounds a game, while shooting 56.2 percent (209-372) from the field and 81.0 percent (136-168) from the free-throw line. In games through the ACC Tournament, he ranked first among ACC players in field goal percentage, second in scoring, fifth in rebounding and seventh in free throw percentage.
Scott ranks 16th on Virginia’s career scoring list with 1,523 points and is third in career rebounds (938) and career double-doubles (34).
Sophomore guard Joe Harris is also averaging in double figures in scoring for the Cavaliers with an average of 11.5 points a game and senior guard Sammy Zeglinski is averaging 8.7 points a game. Zeglinski ranks sixth among ACC players in steals (45, 1.6 spg. in 29 games).
Zeglinski is fifth on Virginia’s career list for three-pointers with 198, tied for 10th on the career steals list with 154 and 12th on the career assists list with 309.
Junior guard Jontel Evans leads the Cavaliers in assists (119) and steals (50). He ranks fifth among ACC players in assists (3.8 apg.) and fourth in steals (1.6 spg.). Evans was named to the ACC’s All-Defensive Team this season.
As a team, Virginia ranks first in the ACC in scoring defense (53.7), rebounding defense (29.3) and defensive rebounding percentage (74.6 percent).
In statistics through Sunday (March 11), the Cavaliers ranked second nationally in points allowed per possession (0.88), assists per game by opponents (8.4) and scoring defense, fourth in defensive rebounding percentage, ninth in opponents’ assist percentage (42.6 percent), 11th in three-point field goal percentage defense (29.5 percent), 14th in opponents’ assist-to-turnover ratio (0.65) and 27th in field goal percentage defense (39.6 percent). Virginia has allowed points on just 44.7 percent of its opponents’ possessions this season and ranks fourth nationally in that department.
Florida finished tied for second in the Southeastern Conference standings during the regular season with a 10-6 record and the Gators have five players averaging in double figures in scoring. Junior guard Kenny Boynton leads Florida in scoring with an average of 16.3 points a game and freshman guard Bradley Beal is averaging 14.6 points a game and also leads the Gators in rebounding with an average of 6.5 rebounds a game. Senior guard Erving Walker is averaging 12.1 points a game and leads Florida in assists with an average of 4.7 a game. Junior forward Erik Murphy is averaging 10.7 points a game and sophomore center Patric Young is averaging 10.3 points and 6.4 rebounds a game.
Boynton and Beal earned first-team All-SEC honors this season and Beal was also named to the SEC All-Freshman Team. Walker was a second-team All-SEC selection and Young was named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Florida is the nation’s top three-point scoring team, making an average of 9.9 three-point field goals a game. The Gators have made 10 or more three-point field goals in 21 games this season.
Florida is scoring an average of 76.3 points a game and allowing an average of 66.0 points a game.
Billy Donovan is in his 16th year as the head coach at Florida. His Florida teams have compiled an overall record of 383-157 and this season’s NCAA appearance is the 12th for the Gators under Donovan’s direction. Florida has a 25-9 record under Donovan in NCAA play and the Gators won national championships in 2006 and 2007. Donovan was also the head coach at Marshall for two years and his career record as a head coach is 418-177.
Overall this is Florida’s 15th trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Gators have a record of 29-12 in NCAA Tournament play with two national championships, three trips to the national final and four Final Four appearances.
Virginia and Florida have two common opponents this season in Florida State and LSU. Virginia won at LSU (57-52, Jan. 2) and lost twice to Florida State, 58-55 in Tallahassee (Feb. 4) and 63-60 in Charlottesville (March 1). Florida played both teams at home in Gainesville and defeated Florida State 82-64 (Dec. 22) and LSU 76-64 (Jan. 21).