- The No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers lost outright to the San Francisco Dons on Friday morning
- The Dons picked up their first win over a top-five opponent since 1981
- The Cavaliers are still favored to win the ACC even after the surprising result
The Virginia Cavaliers are still (technically) the defending national champs but they sure didn’t look like it on Friday morning. Playing their second game of the season, they lost outright as a 15.5-point favorite to the San Francisco Dons.
The ACC title odds haven’t budged much as the Cavaliers are still favored to win the conference but should bettors invest elsewhere?
2020-21 ACC Championship Odds
Odds as of November 27th, 2020, at FanDuel.
Cavaliers Flop Against Dons
The Cavaliers were actually supposed to play Florida in a big showdown but with COVID-19 catching up to the Gators, Virginia shifted their focus to the Dons. It proved to be a disastrous day for Virginia as they ended losing outright in a game where they were expected to win by about 16 points.
DOWN GOES NO. 4 VIRGINIA! 😱
San Francisco hands the Cavaliers their first lost to a non-major conference team since 2018 vs. UMBC. pic.twitter.com/yyHDkFoQyD
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 27, 2020
Virginia started each half well, building an 11-3 lead early in the first and they were up by five midway through the second half, but San Francisco did a great job of just hanging around. The Dons feasted from three as they drilled 13-of-28 from beyond the arc, which is mostly how they won the game.
A three put San Francisco up 61-54 with 2:13 to go and while they allowed the Cavs to go on a 6-0 run late, the Dons held on for the win when Sam Hauser missed at the buzzer. This isn’t a good sign for Virginia as San Francisco’s last win versus a Top 5 team came all the way back in 1981.
Cavaliers Still Working On Team Chemistry
Although one game doesn’t make a season, the Cavs clearly have some things to work on. They made just three-of-12 threes on Friday and had just five assists (on 21 baskets). They did throttle Towson 89-54 in their season-opener but that game went as expected; this one did not.
The Cavs have a lot of turnover on their roster and they are still working on integrating the new cast. Of course, Sam Hauser – who transferred from Marquette – will be a key contributor but he had just 10 points on Friday after scoring 19 in the opener. While the class of freshmen is highly touted, they haven’t shown a ton just yet.
Kihei Clark with an early contender for Pass of the Year pic.twitter.com/esTjTiBTxM
— PalestraBack (@PalestraBack) November 23, 2019
An early concern is the performance of point guard Kihei Clark, who led the ACC in minutes played last season (37.1). He scored 10.8 points per game but is better known as being a facilitator, averaging 5.9 assists. He has just five through two games with 16 points in total.
It might be a tad granular to really examine a team thoroughly under a microscope after just two games but the loss is alarming. The Cavs were expected to be one of the best teams in the country and Friday’s failure has forced experts to revisit that expectation.
What’s The Big Picture?
These types of early-season losses are not a death sentence, so there’s nothing to worry about yet. Kentucky entered last season as the No. 2 team in the country and lost at home to Evansville. When COVID-19 eventually forced the season to be canceled they were still No. 6 in the country, so they rebounded just fine.
Duke had a similar story last season as they were the No. 1 team in the country when they lost at home to Stephen F. Austin. All was well by the time March rolled around as they were 25-6 and the No. 12 team in the nation.
One year ago tomorrow …
Stephen F. Austin upsets Duke as +8500 underdogs 💰💰💰 pic.twitter.com/SrkDJYrTE8
— SportsLine (@SportsLine) November 25, 2020
At this point, it’s too early to worry about Virginia, which is exactly what the oddsmakers are telling us. You might want to be very careful with futures in general given the current state of affairs with COVID-19 and the unpredictability that brings, but in terms of Virginia and this particular performance, they should rebound fine.
If you liked Virginia before, it’s too early to sweat it out. If you were previously avoiding them, this type of loss likely pushes you further away from them.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.