Virginia Basketball: The Cavaliers Are a Tournament Team

David AldridgeFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2013

February 28, 2013; Charlottesville, VA USA; Virginia Cavaliers guard Joe Harris (12) shoots the ball past Duke Blue Devils forward Mason Plumlee (5) in the first half at John Paul Jones Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With a 73-68 win over Duke, the Virginia Cavaliers likely punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament Thursday night.

Joe Harris had another dominant performance for UVA, finishing with 36 points and seven rebounds, putting himself in the conversation for ACC Player of the Year.

As I predicted two weeks ago, the Cavaliers were able to force Duke into a difficult shooting night, and Akil Mitchell played outstanding defense against Mason Plumlee. Mitchell was able to push Plumlee out to the perimeter to receive entry passes, which made the Duke forward much less effective in the post.

Virginia jumped out to a 15-4 lead to start the game and never trailed the rest of the way as the Blue Devils made a late run to close the final margin of victory.

It was a dominant all-around performance for the Cavaliers and a signature win they can add to their tournament resume. Now, Virginia can boast an early season road win over Wisconsin and a late-season win over No. 3 Duke.

The key for Tony Bennett is getting his team to put this victory behind them and move on to the next contest. It is critical that Virginia avoids making the same mistake Maryland made—upset Duke and then follow that up with a loss on the road at Boston College.

With the nation watching in a game against Duke, Virginia proved its an NCAA tournament team. If they can avoid a letdown, the Cavaliers will be dancing.