CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Virginia nearly made it through one of their toughest non-conference slates in decades unscathed before losing to Houston this past weekend, but the lessons learned by the schedule are just as crucial to Tony Bennett.

"You play these games to hopefully have excitement, to have a crowd like this and to try to win, but you get a lot out of them, alright where do we got to tighten the screws," Bennett said on Saturday after the loss to Houston, "We're getting now into conference play, we got two days and we're going to a top, I think Miami is in the top 25, a good opponent."

UVA slid to No. 6 in the latest AP Top 25 following the loss to Houston, who moved up to No. 3 in the country. As Bennett alluded to though the road does not get easier with a matchup against No. 22 Miami set for Tuesday night, the first ranked-on-ranked ACC matchup in 22 months or nearly two years.

"That's very surprising to me because of how good our league is, but it's also very surprising to me that we haven't done as well recently in non-conference play," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said, "First ranked team to play another ACC ranked team in 22 months, you think that'll motivate them?"

The ACC currently has four teams in the AP Top 25 with No. 14 Duke and No. 21 Virginia Tech joining the Cavaliers and Hurricanes. For the second time this season already, Virginia prepares to face back-to-back ranked opponents, something UVA had not done since the 2018-19 national championship winning season when they did so four times in the regular season.

Before the season Bennett regarded their early season slate as one of the toughest since he arrived at UVA, and the statement holds up as Virginia prepares to play back-to-back ranked opponents for the second time before the month of January for the first time in program history.

"I think we just can't hang our heads, that was a tough loss, but we got to bounce back tomorrow in practice and be focused and have a really good practice," freshman guard Isaac McKneely said, "Miami is a really good team, they're no slouch for sure, so we got to come in and work hard."

Only North Carolina has faced a tougher schedule this season among ACC teams than Virginia, who already has ranked wins over Baylor and Illinois in Las Vegas. Few players were hanging their heads after the loss to Houston, instead seeing how they stack up against one of the country's elite teams on a poor afternoon shooting-wise with a less than 100 percent Reece Beekman.

Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson even admitted after the win that he did not think the Cougars would have won if it were not for the loss to Alabama a week earlier.

"I think the biggest thing I learned was that we can play with anyone in the country as long as we limit those lapses and run our offense hard I think we can play with and beat anybody in the country," junior center Kadin Shedrick said, "It was really good to have this challenging non-conference schedule to get us ready for ACC play."

Top 25 battles are nothing new to the ACC, even if it has been nearly two years since the conference was able to boast a matchup like Tuesday night's in Coral Gables. The non-conference slate prepared Virginia for conference play, Bennett says you wipe it away as both the Hurricanes and Cavaliers try to get a leg up early in the season.

"That does surprise me that was my first time hearing it too, that's exciting," Miami senior guard Jordan Miller said, "I think it speaks volumes for the ACC, I feel like people last year and a little bit this year think the ACC is in a little bit of a down year or we're not as good as we used to be, but I think every team in this league can play.

"With this game coming up and both opponents being ranked I think it's going to be a battle, it's going to be a war."