Virginia Cavaliers: 28-2, 17-1 in the ACC

Head coach: Tony Bennett (9th season)

Players to watch: Kyle Guy (13.9 PPG); Devon Hall (11.9 PPG, 4.0 RPG); Isaiah Wilkins (6.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG)

Season recap: Virginia’s meteoric rise has been perhaps the biggest surprise in an eventful college basketball season. Head coach Tony Bennett’s team began the season unranked and did not make an appearance in the AP poll until the last week of November. After suffering their first loss in early December to then-No. 18 West Virginia, the Cavaliers went on a 15-game winning streak which saw them climb all the way to No. 2 in the AP Poll.  

During this run, they defeated both North Carolina and Clemson and handed Duke its only home loss of the season. Despite the streak being snapped in an overtime loss to rival Virginia Tech, Virginia rose to No. 1 shortly afterward, where it has remained ever since.

The Cavaliers’ greatest strength is their fearsome defense, which leads the nation in virtually all metrics. Virginia is first in opponent points per game, allowing an average of just 52.8, and it is not even close—Cincinnati, in second place, allows 57.3. In a February victory at Pittsburgh, the Cavaliers held the hapless Panthers to seven points and just one made field goal in the entire first half.

At the end of the regular season, Bennett was named ACC Coach of the Year, senior forward Isaiah Wilkins won ACC Defensive Player of the Year and freshman guard De’Andre Hunter took home ACC Sixth Man of the Year honors. In addition, three players were named to an All-ACC team. Virginia will enter the ACC Tournament as the No. 1 seed, finishing four full games ahead of the second-seeded Blue Devils.

How they make a run: Their stifling defense continues to shut down even the most dangerous ACC offenses, and the Cavaliers take advantage of their seeding to fend off a pair of upset attempts to reach the championship game.