ACC double-bye a first step for 'Hoos

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Tip-off of this year's ACC men's basketball tournament is now less than two weeks away. By beating Georgia Tech on Wednesday night, Virginia is guaranteed to be off until the tournament's quarterfinals on March 14.

With an 81-51 win at home over the Yellow Jackets, UVA improved to 13-2 in ACC play (25-2 overall) with three regular-season games to play. The Cavaliers clinched a top-four seed in the conference tournament -- and the double-bye that comes with a seed that high -- and also kept pace with North Carolina in the race for the No. 1 seed in the bracket.

News of his team's clinching a top-four seed came as a pleasant surprise to UVA coach Tony Bennett following Wednesday's win.

"We've been fortunate to be in that spot the last few years so no, that is good.," Bennett said. "You don't want to, if at all possible, be in that game. But that's good at this stage."

This is now the seventh time in the last eight years that UVA will skip the first two rounds of the ACC tournament. The Cavaliers have advanced to at least the semifinals four times in the last five years. The lone exception came two years ago, when the Wahoos were the No. 6 seed and won a second-round game against Pitt, then lost to Notre Dame in the quarterfinals.

Last year, Virginia entered the tournament as the top seed in the bracket, and wound up winning the program's second title in five years.

On Wednesday night, UVA junior Ty Jerome said this year's double-bye is one of many goals the Cavaliers hope to accomplish this March.

"That's an awesome accomplishment. It really is, and we're thankful for that," Jerome said. "You never want to take anything for granted. We worked really hard to do that, so we're thankful for that. But we have such a long way to go, so much better to get, so we've just got to keep working."

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