Colorado State overtakes Virginia in First Four

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Dayton, Ohio – During nearly 14 minutes of game time and nearly an hour of actual time, the ball did not go through Virginia’s basket once.

The Cavaliers have been vulnerable to sluggish offensive output this season and in the past — but Tuesday’s lull was particularly painful. Virginia clinched a berth in the NCAA Tournament, which many believed should have gone elsewhere, to a Big East team or perhaps Indiana State. Cavs coach Tony Bennett said his team has “maximized” its potential in the regular season and comes into the First Four with real excitement.

Instead, Colorado State was the team that validated its appointment and showed it probably deserves a stronger seed. The 10th-seeded Rams stifled fellow 10th-seeded Virginia’s offense and, perhaps more surprisingly, found cracks in the Cavaliers’ signature defense, en route to a 67–42 win at UD Arena.

Colorado State advanced to the Midwest Regional, and will next face No. 7 seed Texas in a first-round game on Thursday in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Rams coach Niko Medved said of Bennett, “We felt like we had a chance to win here tonight, but he’s a Hall of Fame coach over there.” “This is an incredible show that I have an incredible amount of respect for. So, I didn’t see it coming tonight at all.”

After Virginia star Reece Beekman sank two free throws with 9:20 remaining in the first half, the Cavaliers did not score again until Beekman’s jumper with 16:37 to play in the contest. The drought included 19 consecutive missed shots and spanned 13:53 of game time and 59 minutes of actual time, including 20 minutes of halftime.

Colorado State held Virginia to five field goals and 14 points in the first half, the fewest for an ACC team in the first half of an NCAA Tournament game since Wake Forest scored 10 against Butler in the first round in 2001. Were. Virginia reached 40 points. With 1:59 minutes left in the game, it tied its own record for fewest points by an ACC team in the Big Dance (39 against Florida in 2017).

“Offensively they are one of the slowest, if not the slowest, playing teams in the country,” Medved said. “But if you look at us, we’re one of the top two in the country in defensive tempo, which means we force teams to make plays late in the shot clock.”

Rams guards Nick Clifford and Josiah Strong held Virginia’s top two scoring options Beekman and Isaac McNeely to a combined 6 of 29 shooting. After a 27-point first half of their own, CSU consistently found gaps in Virginia’s trademark defense, with forwards Joel Scott (23 points) and Clifford (17) sparking a 40-point second half for the Rams.

“We didn’t let them get out of our game plan,” Clifford said. “We stuck to what we do and were confident in it.”

Bennett said Virginia’s defense “busted.”

“He did a good job of getting pressure on the ball, staying in passing lanes and gaps,” Cavs guard Beekman said. “I think we still had some good offense today. The shots weren’t falling.”

Clifford said Colorado State was given a 10-seed for the First Four after going 4-1 against Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 2 opponents in non-conference play and 9-9 against Quadrant 1 and 2 in the Mountain West. “took it a little personal”.

The Rams won their first NCAA Tournament game since 2013.

“It’s hard to imagine that tonight will get any better than this for us,” Medved said.

Tuesday’s matchup couldn’t have gone much worse for Virginia, although the team’s offensive struggles weren’t entirely a surprise. The Cavaliers came in last in the ACC and 344th nationally in scoring (63.6 points per game). He scored 41 points twice in losses and scored fewer than 50 points seven times, his most in a season since 1947–48 (8).

Virginia lost its first NCAA Tournament game for the fourth time in its last five appearances, despite winning a national title in the second (2019).

“We’ve really raised the bar here. We’ve qualified for this tournament, which is no easy thing. We’ve done well,” Bennett said. “But it’s hard to get to this point and not move forward. Certainly, we have to continue to add quality players. We have to look at things from a system standpoint, of course.”

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