(Image – Associated Press)
It’s been thirty-eight long, arduous years since the ACC’s sage, all knowing media experts voted Virginia as the preseason #1 team in the ACC. Not since Ralph Sampson graced the Grounds of UVA has a Wahoo squad earned the prestigious honor of being the conference’s hot favorite. But after nearly forty years of waiting, the day has come, and the UVA faithful can once again rejoice in the media’s recognition of our team.
Believe it or not, teams ranked #1 in the ACC preseason polls tend to fail to live up to those lofty expectations. In fact, only once in the last ten years has the preseason #1 squad actually finished the regular season at the top of the conference. Of course, the media has ranked Duke as the preseason #1 seven out of the last ten years and only been right once. So, maybe this is more so an indication of the media’s dubious obsession with a program that continues to disappoint them than it is proof of anything else.
Then again, Virginia doesn’t have the best of track records as preseason #1. The 1982-1983 squad are the lone Wahoo team that the media deemed worthy of the preseason #1 rank. That season, this happened:
With the curse of the 1982-1983 team and the recent failures of preseason #1 teams hanging over the Wahoos’ heads this season, who knows what will happen. Right out of the gate the ‘Hoos tip off against Maine, a small school from the most Northeastern state in the United States. Could such a matchup yield the same result as that 1982 contest between Virginia and a small school from the most Southwestern state? The parallels between the ’82-’83 squad and the ’20-’21 team are a bit shocking. Both squads boast(ed) lengthy, skilled centers (Ralph Sampson and Jay Huff), diminutive, quick point guards (Othel Wilson and Kihei Clark), and promising scorers on the wing (Jim Miller and Sam Hauser).
Obviously, the danger of the preseason expectations and media adoration will loom large on Tony Bennett this season as he and his team obsess over the praise they’re receiving on social media. The failures of the past and the demons of the future are no doubt running through Coach Bennett’s mind on a daily basis. All that’s left to do now is to wait, and wonder as to the fate of this preseason #1.