With Duke’s win over Wisconsin in the National Championship, another exciting season of college basketball has come to a close. Looking back, the 2014-2015 season was one where Virginia boasted a #2 ranking for a good part of the season and seemingly suffocated opponents with their shutdown defense. However, once tournament season came around, the Hoos seemingly dropped off the map. The sad fact is that all of the Cavaliers’ regular season success this year will be overshadowed by their inability to perform in the postseason. And with this year’s second consecutive loss to Michigan State in the NCAA tournament, UVa has earned itself a new basketball rival for the foreseeable future.
The harsh reality about college basketball is that, at the end of the year, there is only one winner and 63 losers. But Hoos fans shouldn’t dismay, because the outlook for the upcoming season is quite reassuring. Just days after the championship game ended, Sports Illustrated and ESPN released their “Way Too Early: Top 25” for next year. On those lists, UVa sat first and second, respectively. Both mentioned how UVa will only graduate one key player (Darion Atkins) whilst maintaining the core of their defense that played so effectively this year.
One point of worry for Cavaliers fans is the future of star junior Justin Anderson. Anderson currently sits as Chad Ford’s First Five players outside of the first round. One important characteristic of the NBA draft is that only players selected in the first round receive guaranteed money in their contracts. While the feeling on grounds is that Anderson will return for his senior season, this is a very important issue to monitor in the coming weeks.
To sum up Virginia’s chances into a number, Vegas gives them a 10-1 shot of winning the title, tied for best with Kentucky. Going into next year, Tony Bennett will lean on the experience and seniority of his players for continued success on the court. But what is most important is that he stresses stamina in order to avoid the early exits that Virginia has succumbed to over the past two seasons.
Alex Overdyk, Staff Writer