This is what happened to Virginia’s squad that made it to the Sweet 16 last year: The Blue Devils lost to Georgia Tech.
They lost to No. 3 seed North Carolina.
They played a game that no other team had won in the tournament.
They fell to Kentucky, a team that had just lost its second straight Big East tournament game.
And then they beat Kentucky again, this time by a final score of 73-56.
That was a stretch of seven games.
They were never in any danger of falling out of the Sweet Sixteen.
The Blue Deeds had won five straight, including three straight Big Dance titles.
They had won the national championship three straight times, and the last time they had lost to the Wildcats was in 2013.
They went 11-1, but the Wildcats didn’t even make the Final Four.
The loss to Kentucky was a turning point.
“That was a pivotal moment in the game,” said guard Tyus Jones.
“It really hurt us to lose.
But that was the first time we lost to Kentucky in the Final Eight.”
Virginia had played the previous four years against Kentucky, winning seven straight and losing two of the previous three.
And after the loss to Georgia, the Blue Devils weren’t the only team that Kentucky was able to overcome.
They took the No. 2 seed and beat the Wildcats.
And the next year, Virginia was a No. 1 seed in the East, and went to the Final 4.
This time, though, Virginia had a shot at the Sweet Eight.
After beating the Wildcats, Virginia went on to lose to the No .
1 seed North Dakota State in a close game.
Virginia went into the conference tournament as a No .
6 seed, which was just enough for the Cavaliers to make the Sweet 8, but they lost to Duke.
And they also lost to Florida in the second round.
But Virginia was still the No 9 seed in conference play, which made it difficult to get to the Elite Eight.
Virginia ended up in the first round with a loss to No .
4 seed Arizona.
After losing to No , No. 4 seed Texas, Virginia then beat the No 5 seed Texas Tech, and in the Elite 8, they faced the No 6 seed Arizona Wildcats, who had lost the previous week to North Carolina, and lost by 17 points.
“You have to take a lot of pride in yourself, especially after you lost,” Virginia forward Mike Tobey said.
“We came in with a lot to prove and we came out with that mindset.”
And that mindset, Virginia coach Jay Wright said, has led to their rise.
“I think the mindset is that we have to go out and get that No. 6 seed,” Wright said.
Wright is hoping to get his team to the NCAA tournament again, which will make it harder for Kentucky to upset the Cavaliers.
“The pressure that you put on yourself,” Wright added.
“To beat a No 1 seed and a No 6 seeds and a Kentucky team, you want to be a little more aggressive, a little tougher on them, and I think that is what we’ve got to bring to the next game.”
Virginia won’t be ready for the NCAA Tournament just yet.
The Cavaliers need to win at least one more game to make it to a Sweet 16.
But for now, it seems like they have a lot more to prove.
“They’re not the most talented team in the country, but I think you can see the work ethic,” Virginia senior guard Alex Len said.
“[They] put a lot into this.
It’s not just a team basketball game.
They want to win the game.
So I think I’m a little bit optimistic that we can get to this.”
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider