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2014 NCAA Tournament Preview: (1) Virginia vs. (16) Coastal Carolina

Previewing Virginia vs. Coastal Carolina, a first round matchup in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

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Virginia Cavaliers 28-6, 16-2
The Cavaliers were one of the hottest teams in the country in 2014, losing only once to the Duke Blue Devils en route to capturing their first outright ACC regular season title in 33 years. However, they learned that they’re still quite beatable as their 13-game winning streak was snapped by Maryland in the regular season finale. Better that reality check come then than in the Big Dance, though, where the Cavaliers have not won multiple games since 1995. Virginia bounced back with a vengeance, though, as they defeated Duke to win their first ACC tournament title since 1976. They’ve emerged as a legitimate national title contender this year because of their top-ranked defense, which only surrenders 55 points a contest on 45 percent shooting from the field and 36 percent from deep. They’re also one of the best rebounding teams in the country, outrebounding their foes by 6.5 a game. Offensively the Cavaliers are much more pedestrian, well below-average in fact. They only score 66 points a game, with Malcolm Brogdon’s 12.6 leading the way. They went 4-4 against the RPI top 50, averaging 52 points in the losses, compared to 68 in the wins. The Cavaliers’ defense is capable of taking them a long way, but between Brogdon and Joe Harris, or even one of the role players, someone has to be able to provide offense late when they need it in close contests.

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Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 21-12 (11-5)
After finishing first in their division but second to High Point overall in the regular season of Big South play, the Chanticleers won three games in three days, including a double OT thriller against Charleston Southern in the first, to earn their spot in the Big Dance for the first time since the early 90s. The Chanticleers are making their third NCAA Tournament appearance overall thanks to their version of the Big Three in Elijah Wilson, Warren Gillis and Josh Cameron. The guard trio averages a combined 45 points a game, over 60 percent of the team’s total offense. Their strength of schedule was ranked 287th; against the RPI top 150 they went 0-4. Their best wins are against St. Francis (NY) and Western Carolina, but they are coming into the tournament on a roll as winners of five straight and 12 of 15 overall. They’re a good rebounding team, but they struggle defensively, allowing 68 points a game on 40 percent shooting from the field and 33 percent from deep. They’re going to need huge efforts from Wilson, Gillis and Cameron in order to stand a chance. Even then, though, pulling off an upset is going to be a daunting task.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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