RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Within a span of 12 hours, the Virginia Cavaliers experienced the highest of highs only to be followed by the lowest of lows.
In their ACC Tournament opener, they got a last-second buzzer-beater from Reece Beekman to beat the Syracuse Orange. Only to be followed less than 12 hours later by a positive COVID-19 test which forced the cancelation of their game with Georgia Tech and put them out of the ACC Tournament.
“I saw a couple of the Virginia players and their support staff and I just told them I’m sorry what happened to them,” said Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner. “You guys had an awesome year.”
Virginia head coach Tony Bennett released a statement saying “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. I told our young men they have every reason to be disappointed, but it is still very important how they choose to respond. We are exhausting all options to participate in the NCAA Tournament.”
Unlike the Duke Blue Devils whose season ended with the positive test because of their poor record, the Virginia Cavaliers have a resume that made them the top seed in the ACC Tournament and makes them a lock for the NCAA Tournament if….. they can get healthy and cleared to play.
“I hope they get to play in the NCAA tournament,” said Pastner. “It would be devastating to them to not play they deserve to be in the NCAA tournament.”
Carla Williams, Virginia Director of Athletics addressed those concerns today saying in a statement
“This is incredibly disappointing for our players. They have done what has been asked of them in very challenging circumstances. It is unfortunate the ACC Tournament has concluded for us, but we have turned our attention to the NCAA Tournament. We are in communication with the appropriate officials regarding our participation.”
Whatever they do it needs to be fast. The first round of the NCAA tournament starts one week from today. NCAA protocols state that each member of a team’s travel party must have seven consecutive negative tests to make the trip to Indianapolis for the NCAA tournament.
Teams only need five players to be eligible for the tournament, so it is possible UVA could quarantine those players who have tested negative and still play in the event.