U.Va. faces Ohio in first round of NCAA men’s basketball tourney, while Hokies set to play Florida

Norm Wood, The Virginian-Pilot
·2 min read

Though Virginia enters the NCAA tournament as the reigning national champion, there’s a good chance it’d have to fare better against this year’s top overall seed than it did in December if the Cavaliers are going to have a chance to repeat, while Virginia Tech has its own stern trek ahead.

After getting past a Saturday night coronavirus protocol hurdle, U.Va. (18-6) found out Sunday it’ll open the NCAA men’s basketball tournament Friday as the No. 4 seed in the West Region - where Gonzaga is the top seed. U.Va. will play Friday in the first round against region No. 13 seed Ohio.

Virginia Tech (15-6) is the No. 10 seed in the South Region and will open in Saturday’s first round against No. 7 seed Florida. Tech will be looking to bounce back after losing in Thursday’s quarterfinal round of the ACC tournament to North Carolina, which was just the Hokies’ third opponent in 33 days after Tech had five of its last seven regular-season games canceled because coronavirus quarantines within and outside its program.

All games in the NCAA tournament will be play in Indianapolis. U.Va. won the last NCAA tournament in 2019, marking the Cavaliers’ first men’s basketball national championship.

Last season’s tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The winner of the Ohio-U.Va. game will play Sunday in the second round against the winner of the No. 12 seed University of California-Santa Barbara-No. 5 seed Creighton game. The winner of the Virginia Tech-Florida game plays Monday in the second round against the winner of the No. 15 seed Oral Roberts-No. 2 seed Ohio State game.

If U.Va. and Gonzaga are both able to win their first and second-round games, they’ll face each other in the Sweet 16. U.Va. lost 98-75 in December against Gonzaga in Fort Worth, Texas.

U.Va. had to bow out of the ACC tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina before last Friday’s semifinal rounds because of a positive coronavirus test within its program. U.Va., which has to pass seven consecutive days of testing protocols before playing Friday, had to inform the NCAA by Saturday night at 11 if it had at least five players who tested negative.

U.Va. is making its seventh consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament, while Tech will be making its fourth straight appearance. Tech finished just 16-16 last season, and wouldn’t have made it to the NCAA tournament if there had been a tournament.

Ohio (16-7) earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by winning the Mid-American Conference tournament.

Florida (14-9) picked up an at-large bid after finishing fifth in the Southeastern Conference standings.

Norm Wood, 757-247-4644, nwood@dailypress.com