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After strong season, Cavs begin title run

Virginia enters conference championship armed with No. 3 seed, first-round bye

The No. 19 Cavaliers travel to Greensboro, N.C. tomorrow for the ACC Tournament, where they will begin play as the No. 3 seed after late-season losses to No. 1 and No. 2 seeds Duke and Florida State.

Virginia (21-8, 9-5 ACC), seeks to build off a strong season and establish itself as a national force before the NCAA Tournament begins.

"It's been a focus of this team ever since the first day of practice," senior guard Monica Wright said. "We're going to start with the ACC Tournament, move on and work our hardest to get this program back to the championship."

Virginia earned the No. 3 seed and a first-round bye in the ACC postseason tournament via its third-place finish in the ACC standings and will face either sixth-seeded N.C. State or 11th-seeded Clemson tomorrow at 8:00 p.m.

The bye, Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said, "gives us a week to practice a couple of times but focus on us for a change rather than jumping into a scouting report. It gives us time to relax and rest and get our legs back and not put as much stress on our players."

The rest will be well-deserved for the Cavaliers, who enter the tournament on a high after an emotionally-charged win against in-state rival Virginia Tech 55-46 last Sunday. Virginia all-time leading scorer Monica Wright notched a double-double with 27 points and 10 rebounds during her final home game with the Cavaliers, drawing raucous ovations from the crowd.

Following the game, Wright's teammates in a heartfelt tribute sung her praises as her jersey was retired and a banner was hung from the rafters honoring her accomplishments.

Despite all her achievements, Wright still lacks an ACC title to her name, as the Cavaliers have lost in the second round of the tournament for the past five seasons. Entering this tournament still uncertain about which team it will face Friday, the Cavaliers feel equally confident against both potential opponents.\nVirginia defeated sixth-seeded N.C. State (17-12, 7-7 ACC) at home during its only meeting against the Wolfpack 73-60 Jan. 27 and defeated last-place Clemson (13-17, 4-10 ACC) in its only contest against the Tigers 82-60 Feb. 4.

N.C. State, however, enters the tournament after topping then-No. 22 Georgia Tech, and Clemson, though tied for last in the conference, finished its season winning four of its final five contests.\nBoth squads are "very good opponents and very tough teams," Ryan said. "We're looking forward to getting back on the court and getting started"


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