Some predictions, for the sake of posterity

Because I am eager to publish my ridiculous predictions, in order to make it easier for you to mock me at some point in the future, I offer this: 1. The current version of the University of Virginia men's basketball team will be better than either the 2014 or 2015 squads. And that's saying something, because both those teams were regular season ACC champs, and top-two seeds in the NCAA tournament.

2. Darius Thompson, who started tonight in his first game for UVa (after transferring from Tennessee), will be better than Justin Anderson by the time it's all over. You may remember Anderson as the Virginia Cavalier who was selected in the first round of the most recent NBA draft.

3.UVa coach Tony Bennett will run for Virginia governor in 2017 and win in a landslide.

4. I will forget about the dumpster fire that is known as "Virginia Football" sooner this year than ever before.

Ugh

I love watching the athletic programs of my undergraduate alma mater, the University of Virginia. One of the small joys in my life, generally. But if UVa disbanded their (American) football program tomorrow, I wouldn't shed a single tear. Generally, I watch one football game per week: the UVa game. It's no wonder I don't enjoy football any more. The Cavaliers just lost to the worst Virginia Tech team in two decades. What an embarrassment.

Kudos to the Hokies. Enjoy your bowl game.

I'm so glad that it's basketball season.

I Told You So -- UVa edition

I don't know very much about sports, but this is one prediction that I nailed. Back on November 8, here's what I tweeted:

Today, Virginia earned a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since...the Sampson years. They put together the best record (28-6) of any Cavalier squad since...the Sampson years. After winning the regular season ACC title, Virginia won the ACC Tournament for the first time since...well, since 1976, which was even before Sampson enrolled at the University.

This has been such a fun team to watch. They play the best defense in the country, and they have a disciplined, efficient, and unselfish offense. Now I have to decide whether to head down to Raleigh next weekend to watch the Hoos, or if I want to take the chance that Virginia will make it to the second weekend of the tournament. If that happens, maybe I can figure out a way to make it up to New York and Madison Square Garden for the Sweet Sixteen.

Better yet, this is only the beginning of some great things for the Virginia program. Tony Bennett has built something special. Hope the University opens up the checkbook and makes Bennett "coach for life."

Virginia basketball vs. Miami -- 2012.01.07

I thought I'd post some photos I snapped at Saturday's Virginia - Miami game at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville (click on the individual picture to embiggen):

UVa baseball rolls into the post-season

It doesn't get much better than this:

The top seed in the ACC tournament and the Coastal Division title had been secured by the time the first pitch was thrown at Miami’s Alex Rodriguez Park on Saturday.

Apparently, that was not enough for top-ranked Virginia in the regular-season finale.

The Cavaliers exploded early and held off a late rally from the ninth-ranked Hurricanes to secure a series-clinching 7-4 victory.

Virginia improved to 45-10 overall and 23-7 in the ACC entering the conference tournament, which starts Wednesday in Greensboro, N.C. The Cavaliers will be joined in their pool by fourth-seeded Miami, fifth-seeded Florida State and eighth-seeded Boston College, which used a tiebreaker to edge out North Carolina.

“To win two out of three in the final weekend to win the league title is a great accomplishment, especially to do it at Miami,” said Virginia coach Brian O’Connor. “Miami has an excellent club this year and we had to play great baseball to win the series with them.”

Let's just be honest: you can't stop Brian O'Connor, you can only hope to contain him. What he has done with this Virginia baseball program is remarkable.

Phase one of the season is complete, and UVa did what they had hoped: win the regular season ACC title. Phase two begins now, and there is no rest for the weary:

John Hicks, Steven Proscia and Keith Werman mulled over the group of teams that the top-ranked Cavaliers (45-10, 23-7 ACC) were given for the upcoming ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

As a reward for landing the event’s top seed, Virginia was “graciously” given single games in pool play with eighth-seeded Boston College, fifth-seeded Florida State and fourth-seeded Miami.

Two of the Cavaliers’ foes (FSU and Miami) entered the week ranked seventh and 14th, respectively, in the nation. The other, Boston College, swept N.C. State, just earned a bid by beating Georgia Tech and leads the league in fielding percentage.

“I was talking to Proscia and ‘Jaz’ [Hicks] and we were like, ‘Wow, Florida State and Miami and Boston College? There’s no easy win there,’” Werman recounted. “But at the same time we were like, ‘Shoot, we are in the best conference in the country.’

“We are never going to be in a spot for an easy win.”

That's an understatement. What a tough group of teams.

Virginia will open with BC on Wednesday, at noon. I'm hoping we'll see Branden Kline get that start, but Coach O'Connor hasn't made that decision yet.

One last note: UVa got the top seed, but there is another thing that makes this even sweeter. Behold:

There is one thing, however, missing from the eight-team event: North Carolina.

The Tar Heels, despite sweeping the Hokies this weekend and making four straight trips to Omaha, lost out to BC on a complex tiebreaker since the two never faced in head-to-head competition.

Heh. Go Hoos.

Final Four

What a weekend! Men's Lacrosse earned a trip to the Final Four with a stirring victory over Stony Brook. Then the Men's Tennis team earned yet another berth in the Final Four by defeating UCLA.

Oh yeah, the baseball team had a pretty good weekend, too. More on that later.

I know a lot of fans are down on the UVa athletic department based upon recent horrific results in football and men's basketball. Let's be honest, though: this athletic department is outstanding. I am constantly amazed at the level of success achieved in non-revenue sports. Makes a man proud to be a Wahoo.

How good is the baseball team doing?

It doesn't get a whole lot better than this, from Baseball America:

Virginia allowed just six runs in its first-ever three-game sweep of North Carolina, running its winning streak to 14 games—tied with Jackson State for longest active streak in the nation. UVa. now leads the ACC by two games over Miami and Georgia Tech. Jr. OF Jarrett Parker had two hits in each game to lead the Cavaliers' offense. After UNC tied the first game of Saturday's doubleheader with a run in the top of the ninth, Jr. OF John Barr delivered a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the frame. In the nightcap, Jr. RHP Robert Morey (9 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K) became the first Cavalier to throw back-to-back complete games since Andrew Dobies in 2004. Jr. RHP Tyler Wilson (5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R) earned the win in relief Sunday, as Virginia capped its comeback from an early 3-0 deficit with So. 1B John Hicks' walk-off three-run homer in the ninth. It was UVa.'s first walk-off homer since David Adams hit one against Georgia Tech in 2007. The series drew a school-record 13,294 fans.

Wow. Just wow. I almost can't believe they're talking about our Hoos.

Perfect Baseball Weekend

As far as I'm concerned, this was a perfect weekend of baseball. My Cincinnati Reds found themselves in the unfamiliar position of being atop the standings after taking a series from St. Louis. Then, there was this:

John Hicks needed only to stay near the batter’s box long enough to wave his hands towards fair territory to evoke Red Sox great Carlton Fisk’s famous home run from the 1975 World Series.

Instead, the Virginia sophomore raced to first base, looking to the left as his powerful right-handed stroke provided a game-ending homer that caromed halfway up the foul pole in left field.

The three-run smash from the former Goochland High School star ultimately lifted top-ranked Virginia to a 5-3 victory over North Carolina in front of a sellout crowd of 4,825 at Davenport Field, giving the Cavaliers their first three-game sweep over the Tar Heels in program history.

Awesome. Next up, the Hoos will host VMI before beginning a huge series with Miami on Thursday. That series has big implications for the ACC title race. I can't wait....

*By the way, the Reds won the 1975 World Series referenced in the block quote above. :)

Big weekend

It's good to get the first one out of the way:

And just 12 seconds into the game, it felt like there just might be “life after love.” With Love’s family in the stands, Virginia scored right off the opening faceoff when Charlie Finnigan took a pass from Whit Hagerman and fired a shot past Towson goalie Mary Teeters.

The season-high crowd of 2,270 at Klockner erupted.

But it wasn’t until late in the second half that sixth-seeded Virginia was able to put away a feisty Towson squad. A goal by Finnigan with 1:58 to play gave UVa a hard-fought 14-12 victory.

With the win, Virginia (14-5) advanced to play No. 3 North Carolina next weekend in Chapel Hill, N.C..

“This was obviously much more than just a game today,” said Virginia coach Julie Myers. “Obviously, the last couple of weeks have been unfamiliar territory, but our players, our coaches, everybody surrounding our program — and even people who aren’t attached directly to our program — have been so strong and have really helped keep us hopeful, keep us together and keep us really focused.”

Virginia needed that focus. After jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead, No. 11 Towson responded by scoring five of the next six goals to take a 5-4 lead.

That story just doesn't stop being a heartbreaker. Glad the Hoos could focus long enough to win. Next up: UNC, next weekend.

Let's not forget that the men won in the first round, as well. They will play Stony Brook in round two.

College Football Conference Expansion

Perhaps it's just my naturally pessimistic outlook when it comes to Virginia sports, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the ACC is going to end up getting screwed here. The Big Ten is looking to expand, and the dominoes are about to fall with respect to the other conferences, including the Big East, the Big Twelve, and the SEC, perhaps. Jerry Ratcliffe and David Teel have provided their takes on the subject. I dunno...the ACC has never had visionary leadership, so I'm expecting the worst.

Still the favorite?

Over at the Daily Progress, Whitey Reid asks if the UVa men's lacrosse team is still the favorite going into the NCAA tournament. It's a good question. I saw some video on ESPN earlier from Grounds, talking about the men's and women's lacrosse teams. As often as UVa gets ignored by ESPN, it is just heartbreaking to see The University cast in this light on a national broadcast. What a miserable situation for everyone.