The University of Virginia (UVA) has a long and storied history with the NCAA Tournament. For generations of Cavaliers fans, the NCAA Tournament has been a source of pride and anticipation. Not only has UVA seen some of its greatest successes in the tournament, but the university has also produced several all-time greats who have gone on to make names for themselves in the basketball world.

In this article, we’ll explore the University of Virginia’s history in the NCAA Tournament and the prospects of the Cavaliers making an appearance in the 2021 tournament.

Will UVA Play in NCAA Tournament

The University of Virginia (UVA) has a long and proud history as one of the great college basketball programs in the NCAA. Founded in 1819, UVA competed in its first intercollegiate game in 1904 and joined the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in 1953. The program has won two regular season championships (1982, 1983), one conference tournament championship (1976), three NCAA Final Four appearances, and one NCAA National Championship title (2019). Throughout its history, UVA has produced some of the greatest players in collegiate basketball. Ralph Sampson was a three-time National Player of the Year and Hall of Famer who led the Cavaliers to their first Final Four appearance in 1981. Bobby Hurley also took UVA to a Final Four, highlighted by his 1991 buzzer-beating shot against Pittsburgh. Malcolm Brogdon became just the fourth player from an ACC school to win National Player of the Year honors after leading UVA to the 2014 ACC title. Not only do legendary players have their roots at UVA, but legendary coaches too. Legendary coach Pete Gillen took over for Terry Holland and compiled five straight 20-win seasons from 1998-2003 — reaching as high as 18th nationally during that span — with teams led by All-Americans Curtis Staples and Travis Watson. Dave Leitao followed Gillen’s brief tenure with four seasons at Virginia that saw two NIT appearances and selection into the 2009 NCAA tournament with a powerful 19-win team featuring Sylven Landesberg and Mustapha Farrakhan Jr., among others . Tony Bennett currently stands as UVA head coach since the 2009–2010 season; under his watch Virginia won national titles in 2019 against Texas Tech, advancing through six consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances at first overall seed each time since the 2014–15 season.

Overview of NCAA Tournament

The NCAA tournament is one of the most iconic events in U.S. sports, involving 68 teams from all divisions of college basketball vying for the national championship title. It was first held in 1939 and has since become a phenomenon that brings fans from around the world together to see who will be crowned champion. UVA is one of the oldest members of the tournament, joining for its fifth year in 1944 and since then has made over 20 appearances with seven trips to the Final Four and two national championships, including a thrilling win in 2019. The NCAA tournament consists of three stages — Selection Sunday, when teams are informed as to which regional they have been placed in; The First Round, when teams will compete against each other to advance through their respective regions; and The Final Four, where four teams remain standing to play in two semifinal games before going into a championship matchup. With each match comes unprecedented excitement as viewers watch beloved athletes battle it out on their way towards glory!

UVA’s Early History

The University of Virginia has a rich history and was first founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson. UVA, as it’s commonly known, was the first university in the United States to be founded solely by an individual and the institution has had a long and illustrious history in the world of sports, particularly when it comes to the NCAA basketball tournament. Let’s take a look at how UVA has fared in the tournament over the years.

Founding of UVA

The University of Virginia (UVA) was founded on March 7, 1819 as an educational institution for the “diffusion of knowledge” in the newly formed nation. It was established by Thomas Jefferson at the recommendation of James Madison, author of the Bill of Rights and father of the Constitution. UVA was the first university in the United States to offer degrees in law and medicine. Its early history has been a source of much debate, as initially there were no rules or regulations governing admission or degree granting. Many students attended without ever completing their studies due to this lax system. The university soon adopted a process consistent with other institutions and began only awarding degrees after certain criteria had been met, such as hours spent in coursework and workshops. Over time, it became a more determined academic institution requiring formal entrance qualifications and featured one of the first co-educational student bodies in America when women were granted full rights to study attendance and examination taking privileges by 1836. UVA is also famous for its rich basketball history, which dates back to 1955 when they earned their first NCAA tournament bid. From then on, UVA has cultivated a successful basketball program led by legendary head coaches such as Pete Gillen and Terry Holland who have taken teams to 10 appearances in the NCAA tournament – making them one of college basketball’s most storied programs over time.

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Early Success In College Basketball

The University of Virginia was one of the first college teams to gain national recognition in basketball, playing their first official NCAA tournament game in 1941 when they defeated Kentucky in the East Regional Championship. In the years since then, UVA’s success has been extraordinary and unparalleled. After reaching their first Final Four appearance in 1945, UVA teams have reached seven Final Four appearances in total (1981, 1984, 1989, 1995, 2016), became NCAA National Champions three times (1981, 1984, 2019), and have been ranked as high as number one nationally several times (1952-1954). The 1940s and 1950s saw some of the most successful basketball seasons recorded by a program at the time with legendary head coach Frank “Bruiser” McCue leading UVA to their first tournament appearances and national rankings. In 1952-54 UVA was crowned ACC Champions each season before capping off an amazing run with their first “Final Four” trip to Kansas City on March 25th 1955 which would see them lose to eventual champions San Francisco Dons. During this era standout players Bill Chambers and Joe Harris were two of many great Cavaliers that set the tone for excellence in future generations. In 1981 under head coach Terry Holland UVA finally broke through to win an NCAA championship beating UNC-Chapel Hill 63-62 marking the beginning of another skyrocketing period for the school’s success in college basketball followed by another title win under Terry Holland again in 1984 defeating Houston 84-75 to best cap off what remains a defining period for UVA’s basketball heritage. Despite turbulent years during this era Coach Terry Holland’s legacy remained intact until present day where it is still well remembered today for his unwavering devotion both on and off the court.

UVA’s NCAA Tournament History

The University of Virginia has a long history of competing in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. UVA has won the tournament three times since its inception in 1939, and has made the Final Four or Elite Eight on 18 occasions. In this article, we’ll look back at the history of UVA’s tournament success, from its first appearance in the tournament in 1946 to its most recent performance in 2021.

Early Tournament Appearances

The University of Virginia (UVA) Cavaliers’ first appearances in the NCAA tournament dates back to the 1940s. During their early tournament appearances, the Cavaliers were led by Hall of Fame coach and UVA alumnus, Bill Chambers. In 1943 UVA reached the NCAA tournament semifinals under Chambers but lost to eventual national champion Wyoming. Two years later in 1945, UVA advanced to its first NCAA Championship game where they faced Oklahoma A&M and fell short again, losing 49–45. As a matter of fact, during the 1950s and 1960s, UVA reached the NCAA tournament seven times under two coaches; Swede Sandner and Bill Chambers’ successor Lloyd Riley. The Cavaliers had mixed results with only one tournament victory before advancing to their first Final Four appearance in 1976 under coach Terry Holland when they took on Rutgers in Philadelphia’s Spectrum and won 75–74. Since then, UVA has appeared in three more Final Fours (1981, 1989 and 2016), reaching the National Championship game for just the second time ever in 1981 under Coach Terry Holland but losing 63–62 to North Carolina.

Recent Tournament Appearances

The University of Virginia’s men’s basketball team has a long history of success, and that has been reflected in their NCAA tournament appearances. In the last decade alone, UVA has made it to the tournament every year since 2010, making six trips to the round of 32 and four trips to the Sweet Sixteen. In 2011, UVA led an upset by defeating fourth-seed Michigan State in their opening match up. That year marked a breakthrough for the program as they made it to the Elite Eight for only the second time in school history. The following year was a disappointment however, as UVA lost in round two to seventh-seed Florida despite entering as a number eleven seed. The 2013 season saw Virginia reach their third Sweet Sixteen appearance where they matched up against Michigan State again. This time UVA was victorious with an impressive 78-60 victory before falling short against fourth-seed Iowa State 61-57 in overtime. UVA would continue to demonstrate its prowess on the court going on to reach consecutive Sweet Sixteens from 2014 – 2016 respectively. They were finally able to break through again in 2018, earning themselves a trip to their first ever Final Four after defeating Auburn 63-62 and Purdue 80-75 respectively during March Madness play that season.

UVA’s Future In The NCAA Tournament

The University of Virginia and the NCAA tournament have quite a long and storied history, dating all the way back to the first NCAA tournament. UVA has had a number of great basketball teams and has gone to the Final Four of the tournament numerous times. As of late, UVA has seen some success, but will the Cavaliers be able to make it back to the tournament in the future? Let’s take a closer look.

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Will UVA Make The NCAA Tournament in 2021?

The University of Virginia (UVA) has a history of great basketball teams, but will their recent success persist into 2021? In 2019, UVA made a historic tournament run that saw the Cavaliers take down three-seed Purdue in the second round and go on to reach the title game. Despite being thwarted in the final by Texas Tech, UVA’s magical string of wins set them up as one of the favorites for a return to the NCAA tournament in 2020. Unfortunately, due to disruptions caused by Covid-19 outbreaks throughout college basketball, UVA saw their 2020 aspirations end before they even began. Now, with an unpredictable 2021 season ahead and questions about how teams will handle new protocols and budgets, it remains unclear if UVA will make the NCAA tournament at all this year. What is certain is that head coach Tony Bennett and his staff have done an excellent job in building a strong foundation throughout their program. With improved recruiting classes, depth on both sides of the ball, and access to many professional resources as part of a power five conference school, UVA has all of the pieces needed for continual success in college basketball moving forward. However, only time will tell if these factors come together to give UVA another memorable postseason ride or fall short this season.

Impact of COVID-19 on UVA’s NCAA Tournament Chances

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of life and thrown a wrinkle in the plans of numerous universities, including the University of Virginia (UVA). This has been especially felt with college athletics, making it difficult to determine what UVA’s chances are for competing in 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. While UVA is one of the most successful tournament teams in recent memory and is currently ranked first nationally, their NCAA tournament hopes remain uncertain due to how widespread and unpredictable the pandemic is. Fortunately, some feel that if the season is able to be completed on time in 2021, UVA would have a good chance of making it to the tournament. They have an experienced team full of upperclassmen and a star coach in Tony Bennett who has already had great success with this squad. Although it remains uncertain if there will be significant cancellations due to the virus, UVA should still have strong footing going into March Madness if they can consistently prove their worth through conference play. UVA is also well-positioned for future NCAA tournaments beyond 2021 as well, as their current roster will be also returning next year and recruitments are continuing unabated. Incoming transfers like Sam Hauser from Marquette University and Trey Murphy III from Rice University continue to add firepower while they also recruited two four-star players in DJ Harvey and Ben Stanley over the summer. These factors all combine to set up a strong foundation for UVA basketball looking ahead at least another couple years into the future, even with the disruptions caused by COVID-19 still ongoing.


After analyzing the history of UVA in the NCAA tournament, it is clear that they have had plenty of success in past tournaments and have been a consistent force in college basketball. With the 2021 tournament just around the corner, the question now is whether UVA can continue their success and make a deep run this year. Let’s take a look at the conclusion and see if UVA is a likely candidate to compete in this tournament.

Summary of UVA’s NCAA tournament History

The University of Virginia has been a successful team in the NCAA tournament, beginning with its first appearance in 1976. UVA made its first Sweet Sixteen appearance in 1979 and advanced to the Elite Eight in 1984 and 1995. UVA has gone on to become one of only four teams to have appeared in four consecutive Final Fours from 2014-2018, winning the national championship game in 2019 for the school’s first-ever basketball title. In addition to its success on the court, UVA has also achieved success off the court as an academic institution. The university’s student-athletes have posted exceptional academic achievement by maintaining a collective GPA of 3.0 or higher since 1978. UVA’s student-athletes strive for excellence both on and off the court, making it one of the premier institutions in college basketball today.

Outlook For UVA’s future in The NCAA Tournament

The future of UVA basketball looks promising as the team continues to strengthen its impact in the NCAA tournament. The team is poised to make a deep run this year, led by the continued efforts of Head Coach Tony Bennett and the tenaciousness and talent of star guard Kyle Guy. With a strong 2020 season, UVA has proven that it is one of the best in college basketball, and with ongoing recruiting success, there is no reason why this team cannot continue to make it back to the NCAA tournament for many years to come. Off-the-court support will also be crucial for UVA’s future success. The institution’s commitment to providing its athletes with an exceptional education as well as emotional support will be essential for creating a successful program worthy of making deep runs through March Madness. With a dedicated fanbase, strong players and staff, intelligent strategy, and improved on-campus facilities such as John Paul Jones Arena and JPJ Programs Center, this formidable Cavaliers squad should have no trouble securing victories in conference play or getting a high seed come tournament time.

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