Tony Bennett's third season at the University of Virginia turned out to be a breakout year, as the Cavaliers won 22 games and earned a bye into the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament as one of the conference's top four teams. But the toughest part of the season may have just begun for Bennett and his Cavaliers.
After running out to an 18-3 start (5-2 in ACC play), Virginia lost five of their final nine games to slump to 9-7. Four of the losses were to ACC regular season champion North Carolina and ACC Tournament champion Florida State. But the fifth loss was a befuddling 60-48 setback at also-ran Clemson.
The news got even worse for Virginia in late January when Senegalese senior Assane Sene fractured his ankle in a win over Georgia Tech. The injury caused Sene to miss the rest of the season. Injuries and further roster attrition forced the Cavaliers to only play seven players in their 67-64 quarterfinal loss to N.C. State in the ACC Tournament.
It remains to be seen whether Virginia can recover enough of their legs to face the No. 7 seed Florida Gators in the Midwest Region Round of 64 in Omaha, Neb. Friday.
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