North Carolina and Duke have captured the offseason hype once again in the ACC, but there is a belief that Virginia could be the sleeper team in the conference and have the breakout season Tony Bennett has been looking for that will land the team in the NCAA tournament.
Some of his players appear confident enough they'll be dancing in March after the drought ends. According to the Washington Post, upperclassmen Mike Scott and Jontel Evans have vowed not to cut their hair until the Cavaliers make the NCAA tournament.
Scott, who missed 21 games last season after suffering a left ankle injury in mid-December, said he has not cut his hair since March and will not do so again "until we reach our goal."
That goal is the same as it is every year: to earn a NCAA tournament bid. As coaches and players convened Thursday for the team's annual media day, the consensus was that such ambitions are much more attainable entering the 2011-12 season than in either of the past two seasons.
"I think, starting my third year [at Virginia], this is, since I've been here, our best chance to take that next step," Coach Tony Bennett said, referring to earning a spot in the field of 68. "There’s so many variables that come into it."
Virginia finished 16-15 last season with Scott sidelined for much of the year while recovering from two surgeries on his left ankle. Scott received a medical hardship to play this season, and he'll be expecting to do it with full head of hair now that his pledge has been made.
Can the Cavaliers get to the tournament? The pieces are there with Scott returning and a talented freshman class incoming. Now Virginia just has to perform, or else we'll have to revisit when a senior like Scott will feel good about cutting his hair again.