This article is part of our College Hoops Barometer series.
Is this the season the Virginia Cavaliers finally come crashing back down to earth? For schools not named, say, Duke or Kansas, the college basketball cycle is largely cyclical. Even in many of the Power 5 conferences, programs have their ups and downs. Sustained success is rare. Yet the Hoos have had just that under coach Tony Bennett over almost the last decade. Virginia has won at least 22 games in nine-straight seasons. They've had at least a share of the regular season conference title four times over that span. Virginia made the NCAA Tournament six-straight times until last year's tournament was cancelled due to the pandemic. That includes the magical National Championship run in 2019, which came just one year after becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in an NCAA Tournament. Bennett has overcome any obstacles thrown in his way into building one of the powerhouse programs over the 2010's.
It's nearly 2021, though, and Virginia – the ACC Preseason favorite – has lost two of its first six games this season. That includes a recent 98-75 shellacking at the hands of No. 1 Gonzaga. Certainly losing to this mammoth 'Zags squad is nothing to scoff at, but the Cavaliers don't seem to have the horses this season to be a top-tier unit. Top-ranked recruit Jabri Abdur-Rahim has had an extremely slow start to the year, and fellow freshman Reece Beekman has only been adequate. Transfer Sam Hauser has not been able