ACC Basketball Tournament 2011: Revenge on Virginia's Mind Against Miami

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IMarch 8, 2011

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 11:  Sammy Zeglinski #13 talks with Mustapha Farrakhan #2 of the University of Virginia Cavaliers during the first half against the Boston College Eagles in their first round game in the 2010 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on March 11, 2010 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

The Virginia Cavaliers squandered many leads this season.

They led nearly the entire game against the North Carolina Tar Heels before losing at home.

They saw a lead evaporate in the second half at Cameron Indoor before Duke rolled to a victory.

Virginia held a lead over Boston College with under two minutes to go before the Eagles soared into the win column.

Yet, only one game seemed to raise the ire of the usually amiable Virginia coach Tony Bennett and company.

The Cavaliers led the Miami Hurricanes 55-50 with under 40 seconds to go in Coral Gables. A quick three-pointer by Miami, followed by only one free throw from Virginia led to a play that still burns in the memory of the Virginia players.

Virginia guard Sammy Zeglinski was called for a foul on a three-point attempt. It tied the game, fouled out the junior sharpshooter and turned the momentum for good. 

Zeglinski adamantly denied fouling Miami's Rion Brown. Coach Bennett later supported him, his most vocal opposition to a call in his two years at Virginia.

Well Cavaliers, no more time to complain, you are getting a second chance.

Virginia has picked the perfect time to exact revenge. The Cavaliers have won four out of their last five games, finishing the regular season with a 7-9 record in the ACC.

While the number may not be that impressive, how Virginia got there certainly has been.

After losing their top player Mike Scott in mid-December, the Cavaliers have struggled mightily to find any offense. The burden on defense has been almost overwhelming.

Nevertheless, despite the injuries, the inexperience and the demoralizing losses, the Cavaliers battled throughout the ACC. They have been the gnat of the conference, pestering and bothering their opponents by their perseverance and determination.

In fact, if Virginia Tech or Clemson do not hear their names called this Sunday, they know that their losses to Virginia might be to blame.

Miami knows a thing about heartbreak and perseverance as well. 

Nine of the Hurricane's 13 losses have been by seven points or less. A team that was 11-3 and had NCAA aspirations fell hard with tough breaks.

Their regular season ended with a whimper and not a bang, losing by nine in the Thriller Dome against Georgia Tech—thus ending a Jekyll-and-Hyde season, where Miami has looked wonderful and awful from moment to moment.

Looking at the numbers, Miami has alternated wins and losses the past eight games. By that infallible logic, things do not look good for Virginia.

The Hurricanes are more talented, but can they match the motivation of the Cavaliers in this rematch?

Balance scoring and tough rebounding make Miami a formidable challenge but this game will hinge on Virginia's shooting.

If the Cavaliers can shoot the long ball, they will be able to hang in it with Bennett's Pack Line defense. In Virginia's wins they have shot better behind the arc than inside it. 

They should also be able to create turnovers against a team that averages more turnovers than assists.

In the end, it is so hard to judge the mindset of young men in a conference tournament. Both teams know that their post-season dreams have been crushed long before they take the court.

Virginia's momentum will not survive another patented cold shooting spell. However, I would not be surprised to see one more hot performance.

Prediction: UVA 60 Miami 52