They were picked to finish eighth in the Atlantic Coast Conference, seen as a team with two good guards and many inconsistent role players.
But with Sean Singletary and J.R. Reynolds leading the way, and those role players taking turns making big plays, Virginia needs only to win at cellar-dwelling Wake Forest today to do what few expected: win the ACC regular season championship.
As Singletary said after Virginia broke a tie for first place with No. 21 Virginia Tech by beating the Hokies 69-56 on Thursday night, "It means we've come a long way." Not until the game was long over did the Cavaliers (20-8, 11-4) gain control of their fate. Georgia Tech's victory against No. 8 North Carolina left the Hokies, Tar Heels and Boston College at 10-5 and all with games Sunday.
The Cavaliers have a faster turnaround with their game in Winston-Salem, N.C., set for 1 p.m. Saturday, but Virginia's Jason Cain said the team knows its opportunity is precious.
"We've got to stay focused and come in and not sleep on Wake Forest," he said.
ODEN'S CHOICE: Amid all the talk about him going No. 1 in the NBA draft, Greg Oden is content being a college student and trying to make his 7-foot, 270-pound frame fit in with the rest of the student body at Ohio State.
He's taking history of rock and roll and sociology this quarter.
"I'm doing pretty decent," he says. "I don't have any failing grades, I know that."
Oden said he won't decide on whether he'll jump to the NBA until after the season.
Most experts had him as a shoo-in to be the No. 1 pick a year ago, before the league made it mandatory that high school graduates spend at least a year in college before turning pro. The No. 1 Buckeyes finish the regular season today at Michigan.
UTAH: Head coach Ray Giacoletti is resigning, effective as soon as the Utes' worst season in decades ends.
GONZAGA: Reserve player Theo Davis has been charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana stemming from his arrest with starting center Josh Heytvelt after a traffic stop in Cheney, Wash., last month.