UNCW basketball earns No. 12 seed in NCAA Tournament, will face No. 5 Virginia

Seahawks set to travel to Orlando for clash with ACC in second straight NCAA Tournament berth

Christine T. Nguyen—The North State Journal
The UNC-Wilmington Seahawks warm up before the game against the College of Charleston Cougars on Thursday

For the second consecutive season, UNCW will square off with an ACC team to kick off the NCAA Tournament. Only this time around, the Seahawks are a No. 12 seed — not 13 — and set to face No. 5 Virginia in Orlando.Kevin Keatts’ squad earned the berth thanks to a second straight CAA Tournament championship with a win over College of Charleston. The Cougars offered the best defense in the Colonial, but Virginia is a completely different animal on the defensive end.The Cavaliers rank No. 1 in the country in scoring defense with only 55.6 points allowed per game. However, the Seahawks come in as the No. 10 scoring offense (85.2 ppg) and capped off the season with seven straight wins before the NCAA Tournament.How did the Seahawks react when they found out their first round opponent? See for yourself. #RunDefendWin #SelectionSunday pic.twitter.com/Jes8ltbRne— UNCW Basketball (@uncwmenshoops) March 12, 2017
What might separate the two teams is UNCW’s depth on the offensive end of the floor. The Hawks present four top-tier scoring threats in C.J. Bryce, Chris Flemmings, Devontae Cacok and Denzel Ingram. Bryce and Flemmings were both selected as All-CAA First Team players while Cacok was the CAA Defensive Player of the Year.Wilmington offers a deep lineup, but might have a size problem in the NCAA Tournament with its best defensive player standing at 6-foot-7. Luckily, Cacok won’t have any offensive juggernauts down low from UVA with Jack Salt (3.6 ppg) and Mamadi Diakite (3.7 ppg) as the only players who have a size advantage over him.After coming up just short last year against Duke as a No. 13 seed, UNCW gets a second chance at glory. With Virginia struggling to close out the year and lacking any semblance of offense, this might be Keatts’ best shot at making it out of the first round in a pivotal 12-5 matchup.