Cavaliers still hopeful for NCAA Tournament, after positive COVID-19 test forces ACC Tournament withdrawal

Cavaliers still hopeful for NCAA Tournament, after positive COVID-19 test forces ACC Tournament withdrawal
Clemson head coach Brad Brownell during the 2021 New York Life ACC MenÕs Basketball Tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Thursday, March 11, 2021. (Photo by Sara D. Davis, the ACC) (Source: Sara D. Davis)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Freshman Reece Beekman hit a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer for the Virginia men’s basketball team in the ACC Tournament Quarterfinals on Thursday in Greensboro, and that might end up being the last play of the season for the ‘Hoos.

The ACC announced on Friday morning that UVA would be joining Duke as teams which were unable to continue playing in the conference tournament, due to a positive COVID-19 test.

UVA head coach Tony Bennett says, “We went from an exhilarating game-winning shot to beat Syracuse, to a gut punch, regarding the positive COVID-19 test within our program. I’m hurting for our players, especially our seniors.”

Jim Phillips is in his first season as ACC commissioner.

“I’m heartbroken for our student-athletes, coaches and support staff at both Duke and Virginia,” says Phillips. “Our teams have worked incredibly hard, and sacrificed so much, throughout this season.”

With the ACC Tournament championship no longer possible, Virginia is focused on another target: The Big Dance.

UVA Director of Athletics Carla Williams says, “We have turned our attention to the NCAA Tournament. We are in communication with the appropriate officials regarding our participation.”

“We are exhausting all options to participate in the NCAA Tournament,” adds Bennett.

For the NCAA Tournament, a team needs to have seven consecutive negative daily tests, before entering the “controlled environment” in Indianapolis.

The first two rounds of the tournament will be played on Friday and Saturday this year, which seemingly gives the Wahoos a window, especially since NCAA senior vice president of men’s basketball, Dan Gavitt, has said that any team with five “healthy” players can play.

Virginia is the last team to win the NCAA Tournament, as the Cavaliers won the program’s first national championship in 2019.

The entire tournament was called off last spring, due to COVID-19 concerns.

UVA has a record of 18-6 overall this season, and they won the ACC regular season championship with a record of 13-4.

The Wahoos are ranked No. 16 in the nation in the latest AP Top 25 poll.

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