Despite earning the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament's East Region, the Virginia men's basketball team isn't a popular choice to reach the Final Four among national college basketball analysts.
And the Cavaliers have noticed.
"I've seen a little bit about it on ESPN," sophomore guard Malcolm Brogdon said this week. "But those are opinions, just like everybody else. And we're going to go in there and battle when it comes to game time."
At least one national analyst does predict Brogdon and the Cavaliers will make a run to Dallas, the site of this year's Final Four. But most "expert" brackets online project No. 4 seed Michigan State -- now healthy, and coming off last weekend's win in the Big Ten Tournament -- to beat UVa in the Sweet 16, en route to winning the East Region.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama jumped on the Michigan State bandwagon, picking the Spartans over UVa on their way to winning the national title.
"It's definitely fuel to the fire, for sure," said Brogdon. "It serves as motivation. I think all that does is help us."
UVa will take the floor Friday night against Coastal Carolina ranked No. 1 in the country in scoring defense. The Cavaliers have only lost twice since the start of ACC play in January, and last weekend they added the conference tournament trophy to go along with this year's regular season title.
But senior forward Akil Mitchell says critics will still find reasons to pick against the Cavaliers.
"I mean, you can always find something to motivate you," he said. "Because there's always going to be people saying our conference schedule was unbalanced, or we lost at Tennessee. I mean, you can say a million different things. And people always do. So we'll find little things to motivate us like that, and just keep moving forward."
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