This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nora Princiotti
For the first time in over 20 years, the men’s basketball team will play the University of Virginia during the regular season.
Announced Monday by head coach Mike Lonergan, the two teams have agreed to play against each other in a home-and-home deal during out of conference play over the next two seasons.
The Colonials will travel to Charlottesville, Va. next season to face the Cavaliers on Nov. 21. The following season, Virginia will pay a visit to the Smith Center in a matchup scheduled for Nov. 16, 2015.
The Smith Center has hosted just seven Atlantic Coast Conference opponents since it opened in 1975, the latest being Georgia Tech in 1988.
The addition of Virginia to GW’s non-conference schedule next season will undoubtedly bolster their strength of schedule and marks the team’s second-straight matchup against the previous season’s ACC champions. GW defeated 2013 ACC champion Miami in the Wooden Legacy Tournament last November
“Our goal is to play a schedule that is challenging and puts us in a position for a berth to the NCAA Tournament every season,” Lonergan said in a press release. “It’s going to be an exciting regional rivalry for our players, students, alumni and fans.”
The two programs have not faced each other in the regular season since 1984, with the most recent matchup being a 79-66 Virginia win in the first round of the 2004 NIT. History puts the Colonials and Cavaliers relatively on par, with GW having taken 23 out of 48 matchups between the two schools.
Virginia, like GW, is coming off a banner year in which it won both the ACC regular season title and championship title – the first time since 1976. Virginia made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament and finished the season ranked No. 10 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Cavaliers have been ranked as high as No. 7 ESPN’s early preseason poll for 2014-2015, meaning it will be a tough test even for a GW team that equaled its second-most wins – 24 – in program history last year and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The deal shows the growing respect the Atlantic-10 conference is gaining after sending six teams to the big dance this past season. The conference has had its fair share of skeptics in recent months. In March, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski made headlines when he said that the A-10 was getting more credit than it deserved, adding that the competition within the A-10 was weaker than the ACC.