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ACC Roundup - Virginia Does It Again

Louisville falls again, but this time there’s a good reason

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Louisville v Virginia
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - FEBRUARY 06: Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals during Louisville's game against the Virginia Cavaliers at John Paul Jones Arena on February 6, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images

Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals have added a lot to the ACC’s considerable competitive DNA - Pitino is as cutthroat as any coach has ever been - but he can’t seem to crack Virginia.

He was ready to try something different this time. Pitino was going to rip off Huggy Bear and dot the whole Press Virginia thing.

Then Saturday happened.

Already without Quentin Snyder and Tony Hicks due to injuries, Pitino suspended Deng Adel and Mangok Mathiang who both missed curfew.

Down to seven scholarship players, there was no Press Virginia.

Instead the Cavs got Louisville again, winning 71-55.

Think back about 10 years - could you have ever imagined a world where Virginia could utterly own a Rick Pitino team?

It’s mind-boggling.

One of the small things we enjoy about a Virginia-Louisville game is there’s usually at least one picture of Pitino in a way you rarely see him: resigned, sometimes even ashen-faced.

It’s not that we have anything against him. It’s just so amazing to see him like that.

There’s something else we are noticing more and more.

When Tony Bennett showed up, his system worked right away. He wasn’t always winning, but his teams were always in it. One of his early trips to Cameron saw an undermanned UVA team go down to Duke then cut the lead down again. It really stuck with us because his team was pretty undermanned.

Virginia is still dong the same basic thing, only now with as much athleticism as Louisville. And that’s a huge difference.

It’s one thing for plucky little Virginia to slow everyone down and win that way. It’s quite another for them to win a subtle, athletic contest where they force opponents to go toe to toe in a brutal ballet for 40 minutes.

As we’ve said before it’s not our thing, but we respect it immensely.

This is the time of year when things get down to basics very quickly and that’s really true for Wake, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Clemson.

Notre Dame is close to free fall. The Irish have lost four straight and five of six, largely because they’re a smallish team and have trouble with bigger teams and look who they’ve played lately: FSU, Virginia (see above), Georgia Tech, Duke and UNC.

Everyone except for Virginia has pretty good players inside.

Well, so does Wake Forest.

The Deacons are on the way up. It’s a solidly athletic young team that is beginning to learn what it takes to succeed in this league.

It’s a dramatic matchup....or at least a matchup with the potential to be dramatic.

As for Syracuse, ESPN doesn't have them in the field but CBS does.

Both have Clemson. CBS has them as a 10 seed while ESPN sees them as a play-in #11.

And by the way USA Today sees Wake Forest as one of the first four out.

The paper sees Syracuse as a 10 and Clemson as a 9.

So this game is really, really critical for both.

Keep in mind: Syracuse has had no road strength this season.

Both games should be really fun - unless you’re pulling for the losing teams.

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