The University of Virginia men’s basketball team has one more chance to make this a special season.
The team learned Sunday evening that it will make its 21st NCAA Tournament appearance – and its fourth straight, for the first time since 1981-84. After a week to rest and recover from a reported strep throat infection that swept through members of the squad late in the season, the fifth-seeded Cavaliers (22-10) will face No. 12 seed University of North Carolina-Wilmington (29-5), the Colonial Athletic Association’s regular season and tournament champion, on Thursday in an East Region first-round game in Orlando, Florida’s Amway Center.
The winner of the Virginia-UNC-Wilmington game will meet No. 4 seed Florida (24-8) or No. 13 seed East Tennessee State (27-7) in the second round on Saturday.
UVA is 2-0 all-time against the Seahawks, but last faced them on Dec. 3, 1987, coming away with an 87-51 victory in University Hall.
The Seahawks defeated the College of Charleston, 78-69, to win the CAA Tournament on March 6. The matchup with UVA will bring a contrast in styles; UNC-Wilmington averages 85.2 points per game, while UVA leads the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 55.6 points per contest.
The Cavaliers, meanwhile, will seek to end their season on a high note with a deep run into the NCAA Tournament. UVA was in contention for the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championship until a disastrous four-game, late-February losing skid pushed them down the league standings.
Virginia rebounded to win its last three regular-season games – including a 53-43 victory over UNC-Chapel Hill, which earned an NCAA No. 1 seed on Sunday – and its ACC Tournament opener, before bowing out Thursday in the quarterfinals, with a 71-58 loss to Notre Dame.
The Cavaliers advanced to the NCAA Midwest Regional final last year after earning their fifth No. 1 seed in school history. The Cavaliers advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2014 and NCAA third round in 2015.
This is Virginia's fifth NCAA Tournament appearance under two-time ACC Coach of the Year Tony Bennett. The Cavaliers have compiled an all-time record of 28-20 in 20 NCAA tournaments. UVA advanced to the NCAA Final Four in 1981 and 1984.
One good omen for Wahoo fans: Michigan State University, which knocked UVA out of two of the last three NCAA Tournaments, is in the Midwest Region and would not face the Cavaliers until the tournament championship game. And Syracuse, which ousted UVA from last year’s tourney, did not earn an invitation this year.
Tonight, the UVA women’s basketball team will learn whether its 19-12 record will earn it an invitation to compete in the women’s NCAA Tournament. If so, it would be the Cavaliers’ first appearance since 2010.
The NCAA provides a limited number of tickets to schools participating in the NCAA tournament first and second rounds. As a result, ticket requests are limited to Virginia Athletics Foundation donors and Virginia men’s basketball season ticket holders in UVA’s block at Amway Center.
Ticket requests for NCAA Tournament first and second-round games will begin online at VirginiaSports.com at 9 p.m. on Sunday. Donors eligible to request tickets should use their registered online account. Tickets may also be requested by calling the Virginia Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-542-8821 on Monday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. The deadline to request tickets is Monday at 2 p.m. Requests for the limited number of lower-level seats and available upper-level seats will be filled according to Virginia Athletics Foundation priority points order. Account-holders who receive tickets will be notified by email Monday night with information about the location and hours to pick up tickets in Orlando.
UVA students may request tickets for NCAA Tournament first- and second-round games in Virginia’s ticket block online at UVAShots.com. The online request period will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday. Student tickets will be filled from requests based on Sabre point totals. Students awarded a ticket will be notified by email. Payment will be for one ticket for both the first- and second-round games. Students will only receive a ticket to the second round if Virginia wins its game in the preceding round. If Virginia does not advance to the second round, refunds for those tickets will be issued to a student’s credit card in a timely manner. Student orders will be limited to one ticket per student.
Tickets outside of Virginia's seating block at Amway Center may be available to purchase through the arena box office. Visit the Amway Center box office to review ticket availability and to purchase tickets.