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NCAA tournament: Virginia stands alone from ACC

Scott Fowler is a national award-winning sports columnist for The Charlotte Observer.

RALEIGH Yes, Virginia, there are a few other teams in the ACC.

You wouldn’t know it, though, after the first week of the NCAA tournament. The conference could crow a week ago after receiving six NCAA bids, but five of those teams (Syracuse, N.C. State, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Duke) had been eliminated by Sunday night.

Virginia, though, remains as the sole ACC survivor after blasting No. 8 seed Memphis 78-60 on Sunday. And that makes sense. The Cavaliers won the regular-season and tournament championships, earned a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed and clearly have been the class of the ACC all season.

And while Virginia trailed by five points at halftime Friday against No. 16 seed Coastal Carolina before righting the ship, the Cavaliers put on a clinic Sunday and never were seriously threatened against Memphis.

Given the right circumstances, Virginia is a team completely capable of going all the way.

• A friend said he overheard a conversation in which somebody asked a Duke fan what went wrong Friday against Mercer.

“I don’t know,” she said, “but who cares? We’re a football school.”

• Lake Norman High alum Kevin Canevari – whose dance moves following Mercer’s win against Duke went viral Friday – had a much quieter Sunday. Canevari, a senior, played three minutes against Tennessee and didn’t take a shot. He did have one nice play – a rebound that he flicked behind his back to a teammate.

• It felt like an outbreak of Halloween on Sunday in Raleigh. Three of the four teams playing at PNC Arena had orange as a predominant color (Mercer, Tennessee and Virginia). Memphis was the only exception.

• This was nice: Mercer chartered buses for its students to make the round trip from Macon, Ga., to Raleigh and back Sunday. Total cost for the 800-mile round trip, including the game ticket – $25.

• Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams, who went to Memphis, showed up in Raleigh on Sunday to support his college in a losing cause.

• If you’re really a planner, it’s worth noting that first-weekend NCAA tournament games (officially second- and third-round games) will be played in Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20 and 22, 2015.

Fowler: sfowler@charlotteobserver.com; Twitter: @scott_fowler
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