With a second round win against No. 9-seed Butler, Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers will head to Chicago this weekend to take on No. 4-seed Iowa State in the Sweet 16. They join fellow ACC opponents Syracuse, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Duke and Miami in the round, a record for the most teams from any conference still competing for the national championship title.
This will mark the second time in three years the Cavs have reached the Sweet 16, the furthest the Hoos have gone in NCAA tournament play under Bennett’s tenure.
After cinching a No. 1 seed in the Midwest region, UVA downed 16-seed Hampton 81-45 in the first round of tournament play March 17 to advance to a second-round matchup with the Butler Bulldogs March 19.
In a much closer contest with Butler, the Cavaliers pulled away to win 77-69, led by seniors Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill, who grabbed 22 and 19 points respectively. Despite Virginia’s stars, the team had key points from off the bench as well, with Mike Tobey and Marial Shayok contributing 10 and 12 points each.
In a pre-Sweet 16 press conference, Bennett said both Shayok and Devon Hall gave the team “good stretches of basketball” post-season, and that Shayok “always tries hard defensively,” Bennett said. “And we needed all of that.”
He also addressed the threat of Iowa State’s Georges Niang, who averages 20.2 points per game, and how the Cavaliers will address the difficulties that the Cyclones pose.
“I think you have to try to make them earn [their baskets],” Bennett says. “They have other guys who are very talented, who shoot 40 or above from the three-point line with good spacing, they score in transition, they score posting up inside out. I think you’re going to have to probably have a lot of guys trying to guard [Niang]. He’s that good.”
Should the Cavaliers advance to the Elite Eight, they will face either 11-seed Gonzaga or 10-seed ACC rival Syracuse. The Cavaliers and the Cyclones tip off at the United Center in Chicago at 7:10pm Friday.
Watch a clip of the press conference here: