UVA rockets up to No. 5 in AP poll after emotional week
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- An emotional week for the UVA men's basketball team ended with a championship in Las Vegas and saw the Cavaliers rocket up into the top-five in the latest AP Top-25 rankings.
Virginia soared up to No. 5 in the AP poll released on Monday, eleven spots up from No. 16 last week. The Cavaliers are back in the AP top-five for the first time since the beginning of the 2020-21 season and the eighth time in the last ten years.
The only teams ahead of UVA in the top-five are future opponents No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Houston, who visits John Paul Jones Arena in less than a month, along with No. 3 Kansas and No. 4 Texas.
The jump in the rankings comes after Virginia swept a "Final Four caliber" field at the Continental Tire Main Event in Las Vegas with wins over No. 5 Baylor (now No. 7) and No. 19 Illinois (now No. 16). But for Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers the celebration is only momentary.
"It feels great in the moment, but I think even more so now we know what truly matters, our families, our faith, appreciating the gift of each day," Bennett said on Sunday after beating Illinois, "When you have a momentary celebration like this, it enables you to enjoy, and it seems to matter, but in the big picture it doesn't. What matters are the things that have been brought front and center."
The Cavaliers started the week by canceling their game against Northern Iowa on Monday following the tragic deaths of UVA football players Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D'Sean Perry. Bennett admitted to having more emotion than usual on the sidelines on Sunday with his team's hearts and minds back home with the Charlottesville community.
"When you step between the lines, when you play, when you practice, you get to your routine and you get after it, but your heart and mind is never far from our football team, those families, our staff, everybody around," Bennett said, "If it's just for those that some people in Charlottesville and everybody watching and their mind was on that, that's a good thing."
Virginia will return home for the first time since the tragic events last Sunday on Friday, Nov. 25 when they host Maryland Eastern Shore.