Rushed Reactions: #1 Virginia 70, #16 Coastal Carolina 59Posted by Brad Jenkins on March 22nd, 2014
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Three Key Takeaways.
- History was almost made and almost repeated. Coastal Carolina came very close to being the first #16 seed to knock off a #1 tonight. The Chanticleers, champions of the Big South Conference, took it to the ACC champions in the first half. Virginia trailed by as many as 10 points and went into the break staring at a 35-30 score in favor of the overwhelming underdogs. For old-time ACC fans, today brought back memories of a similar situation that is known as “Black Saturday.” In the 1979 NCAA East Regionals held in this same city of Raleigh, Duke and North Carolina both fell in huge upsets in back-to-back games.
- For the first time in a long time Virginia did not look like Virginia. On the way to winning the ACC regular season and tournament titles, the Cavaliers went 19-2 with the only losses coming on a last possession lucky-bounce three at Duke, and an overtime loss at Maryland. Throughout that long stretch of games, Virginia has been a model of consistency, mostly winning with defense and rebounding. But in the first half tonight, a different Cavaliers team showed up. Against a Virginia defense that allows only 38.5 percent shooting for the season, Coastal Carolina made 52 percent of their first half attempts. Things were even more surprising on the boards. The Cavaliers did not grab a single offensive rebound in the game and finished tied in total rebounds (28 each). Virginia actually won with its offense in the second half tonight, shooting 65 percent and making 6-of-10 from three point range.
- Coastal Carolina never blinked. Even in this era of so-called parity, it’s still stunning when you see how well many of these lower-seeded squads actually match up with the top-rated teams. Virginia had only a slight edge, if any, in athleticism. And unlike Mercer, whose earlier win over Duke could be largely attributed to the Bears’ edge in experience, Coastal Carolina’s top three scorers include no seniors and one freshman. The Chanticleers were solid in many key areas, matching Virginia on the boards, hitting 9-of-19 from long range, and only committing eight turnovers in the game. Hats off to Cliff Ellis’ group which should be a mid-major to watch next year as well.
Stars of the Game. Anthony Gill and Evan Nolte, Virginia. On a night when the Virginia starters found points hard to come by, Gill came off the bench to lead the way with 17 points. This comes after a very solid ACC Tournament performance last week for the sophomore transfer from South Carolina. Another reserve, Nolte, deserves credit for hitting three big shots to break open a tight game late.
Quotable: “They didn’t panic. They stayed the course.” — Coastal Carolina head coach Cliff Ellis, discussing Virginia’s poise.
What’s Next? Virginia moves on to face Memphis in Sunday’s third round in Raleigh.