UVA's last tournament stay was a quick one in Atlanta but Tony Bennett's team is out to have an extended stay in Omaha and the NCAA Tournament.
"I think we are one of the most under-rated teams in the Tournament," said Virginia Forward Akil Mitchell. "I don't know how much people know about us. It's the NCAA Tournament. It's what you dream of since you were little and we're really excited to play here and we're going to give it our all."
"Getting here and seeing the magnitude of the arena," said Virginia Guard Joe Harris, "it's a lot different than the regular season with all the media. It's a lot different than your typical game in Charlottesville or the ACC Tournament. It's all part of the experience."
The Cavaliers aren't the only Virginia tie to the bracket in Omaha. The MEAC Champions from Norfolk State are dancing as well. Included on the Spartans roster is Chris McEachin, who suited-up for the Radford University Highlanders in the 2009 Tournament before transferring.
"It's a dream come true," McEachin said. "I plan to take advantage of the opportunity and leave everything on the court. I've been here before so I'm familiar with the spotlight. My teammates are handling it pretty well right now and enjoying the moment. They are loving all the attention and our school is showing us a lot of support."
McEachin and the Spartans knock heads with second-seeded Missouri on Friday. The Tigers' staff includes veteran coach Ernie Nestor, whose stops include Wake Forest, JMU, George Mason, Elon and Penn State. But it all began at Bassett High School in Henry County as a head coach in 1969, the same year that Virginia's Tony Bennett was born.
"Basketball has been good to me," Nestor said. "I wanted to coach and I've been able to evolve into doing it as a full time coach in college for quite a few years. I love doing it. Coaching has been a way of life for my family. We spent a lot of time in Bassett and know the Roanoke area well. What a beautiful city it is. We're excited to be here now with Mizzou."