As teams prep for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds of the NCAA Tournament, no basketball program from Virginia remains alive.
The Virginia Cavaliers, a No. 4 seed this year, lost to 13-seed Furman 68-67 in dramatic, upset fashion in the first round. Then, No. 12 VCU — a trendy upset pick by some — lost 63-51 to fifth-seeded Saint Mary’s in the same round.
It was an underwhelming month for basketball teams in the state of Virginia. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still take time to celebrate some of Virginia’s best basketball players when it comes to the postseason.
Here’s a look at some of the biggest names when it comes to March Madness and the state of Virginia.
Ralph Sampson — Virginia)
Ralph Sampson enters the list as the most decoraded player with Virginia basketball ties. Sampson is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame after a tremendous professional career. But he did some of his best work in college with the Cavaliers.
Sampson headlined a Virginia program that reached back-t0-back Final Fours and a Sweet 16 during a four-year stretch under legendary coach Terry Holland.
Sampson averaged 16.9 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.5 blocks over his Cavalier career.
Malcolm Brogdon — Virginia
If you’re searching for a player that embodies the Tony Bennett era at Virginia, look no further than Malcolm Brogdon. During Bennett’s first two seasons at the helm, the team failed to make the NCAA Tournament. But in Brogdon’s first season with the team, the Cavaliers made the dance, losing in the second round.
Brogdon missed the following year with an injury, but the next season sparked six straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Brogdon helped propel the Cavaliers to the Sweet 16 in 2014 and the second round in 2015.
Brogdon’s best season, however, ended with a trip to the Elite Eight. That season, Brogdon averaged 18.2 points per game and hit 39.1% of his 3-point attempts.
Kyle Guy — Virginia
You can’t talk about the 2019 NCAA championship team without mentioning Kyle Guy. That Virginia team was loaded, boasting contributions from Guy, De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome, Mamadi Diakite, Braxton Key and Jay Huff — all who went on to play in the NBA.
Guy, however, earned the top honor of the group, earning the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player honor after the Cavaliers secured their first-ever title. He scored 24 points in the team’s 85-77 overtime victory against Texas Tech in the championship game.
Guy led the championship team in scoring, netting 15.4 points per game and hitting 42.6% of his 3-point attempts. The sharpshooter put on a masterclass in the Final Four against Auburn. That game, Guy scored six points in the final eight seconds to lead the Cavaliers to the championship round.
Glen Combs — Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech’s first NCAA Tournament berth came in 1967 thanks in part to Glen Combs.
A 6-foot-2 guard from Hazard, Kentucky, Combs averaged a little more than 20 points per game that season. The Hokies toppled Toledo 82-76 in the first round before facing Indiana in the second.
Combs put on a scoring clinic, dropping a team-high 29 points. Virginia Tech’s season ended one day later in a 71-66 overtime loss to Dayton, but it was a valiant effort in the program’s first time dancing. The Hokies would not return to the Sweet 16 for another 52 years. And the program still has yet to advance further.
Eric Maynor — VCU
As a sophomore in 2007, Eric Maynor hit the biggest shot of his VCU career in the NCAA Tournament.
Facing No. 6 Duke as the region’s No. 11 seed, the Rams and Blue Devils found themselves locked in a 77-77 tie with seconds left in regulation. Maynor took the ball upcourt, took one dribble to his left and pulled up for a mid-range jumper. Maynor’s shot fell with 1.8 seconds left to give VCU the win. It marked the Rams’ first NCAA Tournament win since 1985.
VCU, however, couldn’t muster any more magic, as the Rams fell in overtime to No. 3 Pittsburgh in the next round.
Maynor went on to have a fantastic college career with the Rams. A four-year player with VCU, Maynor averaged 15 points, 5.2 assists and 3.4 rebounds. His best season came as a senior in 2008-09, when he averaged 22.4 points, 6.2 assists and shot 36.1% from 3-point range.
Honorable mention: Rodney Rice — Richmond
Thanks to the hot hand of Rodney Rice in the 1988 NCAA Tournament, 13-seed Richmond upset 4-seed Indiana. The win was the start of the Spiders’ first-ever trip to the Sweet 16.
Rice scored a team-high 21 points in Richmond’s 72-69 win over the defending NCAA champions. The forward knocked down three of his seven 3-point attempts, added two assists and finished with a rebound and a steal. That single rebound came after Indiana’s Keith Smart — championship hero a year earlier — missed on a go-ahead jumper and set up a breakaway layup to secure the victory.
Teammates Peter Woolfolk (16 points, five rebounds), Ken Atkinson (14 points, four rebounds) and Steve Kratzer (12 points, 12 rebounds) helped balance out production, too.
Coach Jim Larranaga — George Mason
When mentioning Cinderella stories during March Madness, George Mason will certainly be among the first teams mentioned.
Stands to reason, as the Patriots, a No. 11 seed during the 2006 tournament, didn’t even win their own conference tournament yet received an at-large bid to the big dance, marking the first time in two decades the CAA sent two teams to the tourney.
After winning a then-school-record 23 games, George Mason opened the tournament against No. 6 Michigan State, a Final Four participant a year earlier. The Patriots put away the Spartans 85-75, then squeaked by defending national champion North Carolina, a No. 3 seed, to advance to the Sweet 16.
George Mason wasn’t done there. After trailing by as many as 12 points in the Elite Eight, the Patriots stormed back and led by four points with 23 seconds left against No. 1 UConn. Te Huskies, though, got a short jumper with seven seconds remaining. And after a missed George Mason free throw, UConn sent the game to overtime with a lay-in just before the buzzer.
In overtime, the Patriots built a five-point lead — their largest of the game — before a last-ditch 3-pointer by UConn went off the mark to send George Mason to the Final Four.
Unfortunately, the run ended there, as Florida, en route to its first of two straight NCAA titles, eliminated George Mason in the semifinals. Still, Larranaga navigated the Patriots to the first Final Four in program and CAA history.