What does Justin Anderson’s injury mean to Virginia’s title hopes?

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Justin Anderson (USATSI)
Virginia guard Justin Anderson’s hand was wrapped as he sat on the bench Saturday. (USATSI)

Is it possible, in basketball, to lose while winning?

Yes.

And Virginia actually did it Saturday night.

The third-ranked Cavaliers were in control from the opening tip until the final horn in what ultimately became a 52-47 win over ninth-ranked Louisville. But, in the process of moving to 21-1, Virginia lost arguably its best player to a hand injury that will require surgery.

Yuck.

So what does it mean?

As I reported, Anderson, according to UVA’s timeline, isn’t expected to return until at least the ACC Tournament. So, barring a surprise, the Cavaliers will have to win their second straight ACC regular-season title without him, which, in fairness, is possible for two reasons:

  1. The Cavaliers should remain good in his absence, proof being how they handled Louisville even though Anderson missed the entire second half of Saturday’s game.
  2. The Cavaliers own a two-game lead in the loss column with just eight to play, and they only have one more road game against a likely NCAA Tournament team.

Still, none of this is ideal.

Anderson is Virginia’s highest-rated recruit, best NBA prospect and an important piece on both ends of the court. Simply put, Tony Bennett’s team won’t be as good without him. And there’s no guarantee Anderson will be as effective when he returns.

Just a tough, tough break for a really good team.

It’ll be interesting to see how the selection committee ultimately takes this into account.

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