|No. 1 Virginia has extra incentive to beat Pitt|
After wrapping up the No. 1 seed in next month's ACC Tournament in Brooklyn, N.Y., Virginia would clinch the outright regular-season championship for the third time in five years with one more win.
The No. 1 Cavaliers (25-2, 14-1) hit the road Saturday for the first of two road games in a three-game stretch to close out the regular season when they take on Pittsburgh (8-21, 0-16).
The Panthers haven't won a game since before Christmas and are in jeopardy of becoming the second team in three seasons to go winless in the ACC (Boston College, 2015-16)
"It's definitely a step in the right direction for what we want to do this year," sophomore guard Ty Jerome said about Virginia clinching the No. 1 seed. "We just can't get complacent because we have so much more to go -- hopefully at least 10, 11, 12 more games."
Jerome led Virginia with 18 points in its 65-54 win over Georgia Tech on Wednesday night. The Cavaliers continue to boast a balanced attack as scoring leader Kyle Guy (14.9 ppg) hasn't led Virginia in any of the last five games.
If there is a light at the end of the tunnel for Pittsburgh, it did knock off then-No. 11 Virginia in overtime last season in the Steel City, but this year's squad looks much different.
The Panthers have lost their 16 conference games by an average of almost 20 points but did show signs of competitiveness Wednesday night in a 63-57 home loss to Wake Forest.
"I'm here to help these guys be successful and I'm not doing a good enough job of that right now," Pittsburgh head coach Kevin Stallings said. "We need to get better. But I'm just not the right person to ask because at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what I think."
Pittsburgh is 1-1 all time against No. 1 teams at Petersen Events Center. The last occurrence came in 2014 when the Panthers lost to Syracuse.
"The rankings, the seeding, what (media members) say, social media, that's insignificant," Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said. "I tell them: Don't overcomplicate this. Be about improvement, playing to win, and then preparing the right way, and then we'll see how far we can take this."
The Cavaliers are 13-4 all time against the Panthers and won the team's final two matchups last season.
Virginia has now won at least 25 games for the eighth time in school history with four of those seasons coming in the last five years under Bennett.
A win on Saturday would not only give the Cavaliers another ACC regular-season title, it will also give them another steppingstone to what they ultimately want -- a national title.
"Concentrate on the process, and then good things happen after that. Those are the fruits of your labor," Bennett said.