Two years ago, this was all new to Joe Harris and his teammates at Virginia.
Harris was a sophomore on the UVa team lost 71-45 to Florida in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. That game ended a five-year drought between NCAA appearances for the UVa program.
On Wednesday afternoon, Harris and his current UVa teammates left for Raleigh, and the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance since that Friday afternoon in Omaha two years ago. UVa, the No. 1 seed in the East Region, faces No. 16 seed Coastal Carolina at 9:25 p.m. Friday in the second round of this year's bracket.
"We kind of had an unfortunate match-up with Florida, who we didn't really feel like was a 7-seed at the time," Harris recalled this week.. They were a very, very good team that we played against. And we were kind of limping our way into the tournament that time."
Harris, who was limited by a hand injury down the stretch that season, scored seven points on 2-of-9 shooting in 35 minutes against the Gators. Harris was one of three current Cavaliers who played in that game, along with fellow senior Akil Mitchell an junior Darion Atkins. Malcolm Brogdon -- UVa's leading scorer this season -- watched that game from the UVa bench, his freshman season already over because of the foot injury that cost him all of last year.
Senior All-American Mike Scott was the lone bright spot for UVa that day, ending his college career with 15 points and six rebounds in the loss.
"Mike was a beast that year. He led us the whole way," said Mitchell. "And he was that one guy that we just looked to. But this team is just so much more balanced."
All five starters on that 2012 team played at least 32 minutes in UVa's loss to the Gators, and Scott was the only Cavalier to score in double figures.
This year, Brogdon (31.2 mpg) is the only UVa player averaging more than 30 minutes per game, while seven players are averaging at least 18. The Cavaliers also have seven players averaging at least five points-per-game.
"Any guy can get off for a number of buckets, any night," said Mitchell. "And I think that's the beauty about this team, there's just so much more balance."
Harris called this year's NCAA Tournament appearance a "completely different scenario" from his first experience two years ago.
"And I think now, we have a lot of momentum that we're riding. Guys are healthy," he said. "Everybody's going to rest up this week, and prepare the right way."