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The Virginia Basketball Experience: Cavaliers sandwich a national championship with first round losses

It’s an incredible way to define the Packline Era with Tony Bennett in Charlottesville, but to be fair no team had a tougher path to even get in the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett argues an official’s call as his team plays the Syracuse Orange during the second half in the quarterfinal round of the 2021 ACC tournament at Greensboro Coliseum. Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 13 Ohio Bobcats pulled a stunner and knocked off the defending national champion No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers 62-58 in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

UVA becomes the first team to lose in the first round on both sides of a national championship. They famously became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed when they fell to UMBC in the 2018 tournament, then won the national championship in 2019. There was no event in 2020 due to COVID-19.

The Bobcats were led by Ben Vander Plas with 17 points, and Ben Roderick with 15. As a team Virginia was held to just 21-60 from the field, and 8-31 from three point range. Ohio also outrebounded the Hoos 38-29, and were 13-14 from the free throw line.

Virginia had to go through plenty to even get to appear in this game, and was forced to leave the ACC Tournament after positive COVID-19 tests. It cut deeply into practice time leading up to March Madness, and the Cavaliers only arrived in Indianapolis on Friday night for a Saturday evening game.

For the Bobcats, it’s their second-straight win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as a double-digit seed. The last time this happened, they ended up in the Sweet 16 in 2012.

The Bobcats go on to play Creighton on Monday in the Round of 32.