There's one storyline surrounding Saturday's game between No. 12 Virginia and No. 4 Syracuse that's bigger than a showdown for ACC supremacy between the league's top two teams -- at least in the eyes of UVa guard Malcolm Brogdon.
"One of the last times we'll get to play with our seniors," Brogdon explained. "It's going to be a very powerful, very emotional night. But I expect them to come out and play well."
Saturday's game against the Orange will mark the final time UVa seniors Joe Harris, Akil Mitchell, and Thomas Rogers play a home game at John Paul Jones Arena.
"The past four years have meant a lot to me," said Mitchell. "We all came in with that idea of building a special program. And not to say that we're here yet. But we've definitely taken the steps that we wanted to, and taken the strides that we wanted to. And I feel accomplished."
Mitchell and Harris are the last players remaining from the group of six who made up coach Tony Bennett's first recruiting class at UVa. Both players were All-ACC selections last year, with Harris named to the first team and Mitchell making the third team. This year, the individual statistics are down for both players, but the Cavaliers are 24-5, and will take a 12-game winning streak into Saturday's game.
"And I think that means so much to Coach Bennett, that they stuck with him through thick and thin," said Brogdon. "And to see them basically have the success, and lead the team to this point, speaks to them and speaks to their hard work and discipline, and their faith."
Harris has also grown into the on-court face for the UVa basketball program through his four years in Charlottesville. Harris admits that he expects to be emotional about his final home game for the Cavaliers.
But Harris also says his focus is on what's at stake on Saturday -- with a win, UVa clinches the ACC's regular season title.
"You look at it from a bigger perspective. This is what we wanted when we first got here as first-years," Harris said. "This is something that, if we could have looked ahead when we first got here and said our fourth year, our last game is going to be for an ACC championship, against a top-five team, I think we would definitely take that. We would definitely be excited about that."
"You can't really script it better than that," Harris added. "There's just going to be a lot of excitement going on, and something that I'm definitely looking forward to."