Raleigh, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - After waiting through most of the first two days of the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, the Virginia Cavaliers will try to vanquish the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers at PNC Arena on Friday night.
Virginia, the No. 1 seed in the East Region, is perhaps the most surprising team to have been awarded a top seed. The Cavaliers certainly deserved it though, having gone 28-6 overall this season while winning both the ACC regular season and tournament titles. However, this is just the second NCAA Tournament appearance for the team in the last seven years.
Coastal Carolina claimed the Big South Tournament title with a 76-61 win over Winthrop to punch its ticket to its third NCAA Tournament, and first since 1993. The Chanticleers have never won a game in this event, but they are carrying a five-game win streak into this contest.
The Cavaliers earned easy victories in the two previous meetings with Coastal Carolina in history, including an 89-74 victory when they last met during the 2003-04 season. The winner this time around will face the victor between eighth-seeded Memphis and ninth-seeded George Washington on Sunday.
Led by 22 points and seven assists from Warren Gillis, Coastal Carolina had a rather easy time with Winthrop in the Big South title game. The Chanticleers connected on 58.3 percent of their shots from the field, turned the ball over only seven times and had a 36-31 edge on the glass.
Shooting at a high percentage isn't something Cliff Ellis can always count on from his team. Coastal Carolina is only netting 43.8 percent of its shots from the field, leading to a scoring average of 72.7 ppg. Elijah Wilson (16.1 ppg) is the top offensive threat on the roster, which features a trio of double- digit scorers. Wilson turned in a 12-point effort against Winthrop, allowing Gillis and Josh Cameron, who scored 19 points, to do the bulk of the heavy lifting. Cameron (14.1 ppg) is only connecting on 39 percent from the field this season, while Gillis (14.8 ppg, 3.2 apg) nets 46.2 percent and leads the team in assists.
Malcolm Brogdon poured in 23 points as Virginia took down perennial conference favorite Duke in the ACC Tournament title tilt. The Cavaliers continued their reign as the best defensive team in the country in the contest, limiting the Blue Devils to just 38.1 percent shooting.
Defense has been the key for ACC Coach of the Year Tony Bennett's Virginia program. The Cavs lead the country in scoring defense (55.3 ppg), while ranking among the top-10 in assists allowed (9.7 apg) and opponent field goal percentage (.385). The incredible defensive production can be attributed to pace as well as overall ability, as the Cavs are only netting 65.9 ppg at the other end of the floor. Brogdon (12.6 ppg) and Joe Harris (11.7 ppg) are the only double-digit scorers on the roster, with Akil Mitchell (7 ppg, 7.1 rpg) leading the way on the glass.