Cavaliers are a Final Four threat

Even at 16-1 in the ACC, the Cavaliers are as good as their record

Updated: March 3, 2014, 10:44 AM ET
By John Gasaway | ESPN Insider

Malcolm BrogdonCharles LeClaire/USA TODAY SportsThe Virginia Cavaliers are 16-1 in the ACC and are a legitimate threat to make a Final Four run.

If I had told you before the season started that in the first week of March I would label a 16-1 ACC team as a legitimate Final Four threat, I dare say you would have had your "Well, duh" response teed up and ready. But because the ACC team in question has turned out to be Virginia, I realize there may be some skeptical reactions when I say Tony Bennett's team really is as good as its record.

Fair enough. I think if most fans had a proper understanding of Virginia they too would give the Cavaliers the same respect they'd bestow upon any other 16-1 ACC team. So to help this proper understanding along, I herewith present what I call the three don'ts of Virginia comprehension.

Don't be absolutely stunned by what has taken place

Maybe I didn't pick Virginia in the preseason to win the ACC, but I did think that if Bennett found a point guard "the Cavaliers should have a say in the ACC title race." By the third game of the season London Perrantes was starting as a pass-always point, and the rest is history.

Part of my job description entails forecasting every fall, and in this instance the Cavaliers made my job easy. (I just wish Kentucky had been this courteous.) Virginia last season was arguably the strongest major-conference team to not make the NCAA tournament in recent years. Bennett lost Jontel Evans and Paul Jesperson from that team (to graduation and transfer, respectively), but Malcolm Brogdon was slated to return from the injured list and South Carolina transfer Anthony Gill was set to play after sitting out a season.