Cavs Now Highest Seed Left in NCAA Tournament

Count coach Brian O'Connor among those in Charlottesville who were happy to hear the Virginia baseball team would start its NCAA super regional series against Maryland on Saturday afternoon.

"It gives us complete flexibility of what we want to do with our pitching. It allows us, if we choose to, for Nathan Kirby to start Game 1, and we'll look at that very closely in the next 24, 48 hours," O'Connor said Tuesday morning, shortly after the NCAA announced the schedule for all eight super regional series this weekend.

UVa's sold-out series at Davenport Field with the Terrapins is one of four super regionals set to start on Saturday, with the other four starting on Friday. Game 1 of the Charlottesville Super Regional will begin at noon on Saturday, with Game 2 set for noon on Sunday, and if necessary, Game 3 scheduled for 4 p.m. next Monday.

"It just gives us a lot of flexibility, and a lot of options," O'Connor said of the extra day of preparation.

O'Connor's Cavaliers rolled through the Charlottesville Regional, outscoring their opponents 22-3 en route to a 3-0 performance to advance.

UVa entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 3 national seed in the field of 64, but woke up Tuesday morning as the highest seed left heading into super regional weekend. Only the Cavaliers, No. 6 seed Louisiana-Lafayette, and No. 7 seed TCU advanced beyond the first weekend of the tournament.

"It's very difficult to get to this Round of 16," O'Connor said. "I think a lot of people, they think that you host regionals, and they take it for granted because you host, and you're a national seed or you're the No. 1 seed, that you should just automatically advance. And it doesn't work that way."

"You still have to go out and play games," said junior outfielder Derek Fisher. "You're playing great teams in the NCAA Tournament. All 64 teams are worthy of being there, obviously. And being a national seed is only a number right now next to your name. But if you can't get out of the regional, then it means nothing."

"Sometimes we take winning for granted," said junior pitcher/infielder Nick Howard. "I think the No. 1 seed went down, and a bunch of national seeds went down. So I mean, this time of year you still have to be playing great baseball, and I think we're very fortunate to still be playing."

As the lone top-five seed still standing entering the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, the Cavaliers now find themselves in a familiar position -- the favorite. UVa spent most of the regular season ranked No. 1 in the country.

But just as he did with those national rankings throughout the season, O'Connor downplayed his team's spot as a potential pick to win it all.

"It's a matter of who plays loose and gets after it, and who gets hot. And you can go on to win the national championship if you're one of those teams that gets hot for four weeks," O'Connor said. "That's why I feel so good about our team. I thought we played loose and confident, and played some of our best baseball last weekend. And hopefully it continues to this weekend."

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