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Virginia should be dancing for the first time since 2007

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Jontel Evans' mom will be in town Sunday night, and she has a very important job.

If Virginia's name gets called during the NCAA men's basketball selection show, Evans will cut off the hair he's been growing all season. Cavaliers forward Mike Scott has made a similar vow, though he wasn't tipping his hand as to whether Trina Evans would cut his hair as well.

The night is expected to be a celebration of the Wahoos' first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2007.

You can forgive the players, though, for being at least a little nervous — after all, Seth Greenberg's Virginia Tech Hokies can vouch that it's never a sure thing.

"I think we're all pretty confident," Virginia forward Akil Mitchell said Friday. "I don't know what everybody else is saying. Honestly, I don't even think you can tell right now. It changes by the second."

The 'Hoos still hadn't finalized their watch plans for the evening as of Saturday night.

No national analyst has left U.Va. off his projected bracket yet, with seeding generally anticipated to be in the 8-12 range. That means an evenly matched first-round game that would be followed by a meeting with one of the nation's best.

Virginia finished the season 4-6, but had a winning conference record (9-7), and boasts non-conference victories against Michigan at home, Oregon and LSU on the road, and Drexel at a neutral site. Just as important were regular-season victories against Miami and N.C. State, the two ACC teams considered "on the bubble."

The all-important RPI number stands at 50. It's low for a team that spent most of the year in the top 25, reflecting a non-conference schedule that was weak outside of the big games.

One could go crazy projecting the seed and site — and there's an industry devoted to exactly that — but Virginia could find itself at any of seven first-weekend sites before tonight is over. The only one seemingly out of play is Greensboro, as it is expected to host Duke and UNC, and no more than two teams from a conference can be at any site.

For a team that hasn't been to the big dance since 2007, though, just hearing its name tonight called will provide plenty of reason for celebration in Charlottesville.

Follow the Cavaliers at TimesDispatch.com

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