Could Virginia's ACC Tournament loss cost it NCAA tourney's top overall seed?

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 15: Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett talks to one of his players during the ACC basketball tournament between the Florida State Seminoles and the Virginia Cavaliers on March 15, 2019, at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by William Howard/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
This was a loss Virginia could afford. (Photo by William Howard/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Well, we can at least say we’ve seen worse from Virginia in March.

The No. 1 seeded Cavaliers fell hard in the ACC Tournament semifinals on Friday, losing 69-59 to the fourth-seeded Florida State. That’s the first time Virginia has lost all season to a team that isn’t Duke.

Virginia had seemed headed for a 10th straight win when it tied the game early in the second half after trailing nearly the entire first half, but a massive Seminoles rally convincingly put the game away.

The loss leaves the Cavaliers at 29-3 and somewhat unsure footing heading into Selection Sunday, or as unsure footing as you can get when you’re still likely to get a 1-seed.

Virginia had cruised all season (outside Duke)

While falling short in the ACC Tournament is likely disappointing for a team that has been among the elite in college basketball this season, the good news is that Virginia’s body of work this year will almost certainly prevent it from losing a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Cavaliers boast wins over North Carolina, Virginia Tech (twice), Louisville (twice), Maryland and Wisconsin. They had also beaten Florida State earlier this season. As Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Eisenberg broke it down,they had the strongest resume of any team in the country entering this week and were tied with Michigan State for the most Quadrant 1 victories in college basketball, with fewer losses than anyone.

Virginia was probably the one team getting a 1-seed no matter what happened in its conference tournament, though the loss might put the No. 1 overall seed into play for other teams.

ACC Tournament was never Virginia’s biggest goal

Winning the third ACC Tournament of Tony Bennett’s career would have been nice, but winning the ACC Tournament last year didn’t stop Virginia from suffering one of the most mortifying losses in the history of March Madness.

As we all know, the top-seeded Cavaliers fell in the first round to UMBC, the first time a 1-seed has ever lost to a 16-seed in tournament history.

Bennett has coached some fantastic teams at Virginia, but his lack of NCAA Tournament success is becoming a larger and larger narrative of his career. Despite four ACC regular season titles and two conference tournament titles, the Cavaliers have reached the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend just twice under Bennett, and they’ve never advanced further than the Elite Eight.

Whether Virginia has the NCAA Tournament’s top overall seed, a lower 1-seed or an inconceivable 2-seed, the team has been too good this season for anything other than a Final Four to be a reasonable goal.

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