The Virginia basketball team released its schedule Monday and as expected, the Cavaliers will face plenty of challenges again this season. They have dates with five teams in ESPN’s preseason top 15 and road games on both coasts against 2016 NCAA Tournament teams among the slate of 30 games.
After three straight seasons with 30, 30, and 29 wins, a tough schedule is something that coach Tony Bennett wanted to continue for the program.
”Looking at it, and I haven’t studied it completely, but very similar to what we’ve tried to do in the last couple of years,” Bennett said in an interview with Virginia Athletics Media Relations on Facebook Live. ”Play pretty much as challenging of a non-conference schedule as possible and then we have some very tough road games and then you look at how the depth of the ACC has improved.”
As Bennett noted, the non-conference schedule includes substantial tests at home, on the road, and at neutral sites. The Hoos travel to take on reigning National Champion Villanova on Jan. 29 and they have a road trip to California on Dec. 21. In another rematch from last season, UVA hosts West Virginia on Dec. 3. Other non-conference games against quality programs include UNC Greensboro (season opener on Nov. 11), Yale (Nov. 20), Iowa (Nov. 25), and Ohio State (Nov. 30).
Bennett’s reasoning for putting his team through that type of gauntlet is to prepare for the rigors of ACC play and and hopefully the NCAA Tournament.
”I think it prepare you – I know that from the past,” Bennett said. ”We want to toughen it up. We don’t have quite as much experience as we’ve had in the past, but we’re going to learn from it. I like it.”
The conference schedule’s difficulty is, of course, unavoidable. UVA faces Louisville, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Virginia Tech both home and away. The remaining home games are against Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, and Wake Forest. The remaining road games are at Boston College, Clemson, NC State, Notre Dame, and Syracuse.
The Hoos actually begin the league schedule in the final week of December. They’re on the road at Louisville on Dec. 28 and at home against Florida State on Dec. 31. The students, of course, will be out of class for winter break at that time.
”Obviously our students will be gone, but we have such a great following now that we hope that the arena will be packed and ready to go,” Bennett said. ”You look at those two teams – really good. You’re playing two right out of the gate coming off of a road trip from an excellent Cal team so you’ve got to be ready. Just looking down [at it], there are no gimmes in this league and we play good teams for sure.”
The Cavaliers won back-to-back regular season titles in the ACC before finishing in a tie for second place last season just one game back of UNC.
That success has earned Virginia plenty of television exposure. The Hoos play 14 games on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU as well as one game on Fox (Villanova). The ACC Network will carry six games as well. There are two games on the CBS Sports Network for the Emerald Coast Classic in November. The ACC Network Extra, the conference’s new streaming platform, will carry all other games except for the opener at UNC-G. That game does not have a TV spot currently.
For a full look at that information and the schedule, click here.
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Can’t wait for basketball season. This might be a tough year, but I believe in our Hoos and our great Coach Bennett. Wahoowa!!!
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