March 16, 2012
It was hard to find an open seat Friday afternoon at many sports bars in Charlottesville, as fans gathered at their favorite watering hole to cheer of the Virginia Cavaliers in the NCAA basketball tournament.
"It's awesome to see them back in the tournament. It's been a long time coming," said Drew Lawrence, who watched the game with friends at Wild Wing Cafe.
Fans cheered on the 10th-seeded Cavaliers as they took on 7-seed Florida in the first round of the 68-team tournament.
"I'm really excited," said Kayley Bender. "It's like the first time since 2007, and it's been a good season to watch basketball."
"I've been watching UVa since I was a little boy and I'm very excited about this game. We're going to beat Florida," added Ryan Bryant, minutes before tipoff.
Though the Cavs sprinted out to an early eight point lead, the excitement and confidence turned to nervousness and second guessing as the first half progressed. But fans remained optimistic even as Virginia entered halftime down eight points.
"Coach [Bennett] has done a great job of making things come together this year. They have a lot of energy and spirit on the team, so hopefully they can pull it off against a Florida team that's been real good."
But as the game wore on, fans watching at Alumni Hall on UVa grounds sensed this was not the Cavs' day. And they were right. Virginia fell 71-45 to Florida, thus ending the team's season. The Cavaliers finished the year with a 22-10 record, something fans CBS19 talked to are very proud of.
"With all the setbacks, with Assane [Sene] being injured and the guys who transferred, it would have been really big if they won. But either way, it's been a good season," said Alex Walkin.
"Tony Bennett is still an amazing guy. We'll rebuild and we'll be back there stronger next year," Bryant added.