Virginia has finally won its first NCAA championship, 85-77 in an overtime thriller against Texas Tech. Around this time last year, Virginia was sitting at home watching the championship game. During the 2018 March Madness tournament, the Virginia Cavaliers became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed, and now the Cavaliers are NCAA champions.
Post-game, Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter said “We were destined to win,” he led all scorers with 27 points with Kyle Guy adding 24 more. This year’s tournament seemed as if it was made for the Cavaliers, winning a championship after an insane 20-point loss to the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) in the 2018 run. Virginia was the only No. 1 seed to make it to the Final Four this year, having Duke and Gonzaga lose in the Elite Eight, and an unfortunate loss in the Sweet 16 for North Carolina to Auburn.
Virginia’s heart and determination are instilled in them by their head coach Tony Bennett. Bennett has a poster of Rocky on the steps in his office, and he expressed that “I just want a chance at a title fight one day.” The determination the Cavaliers had this year was impeccable. Junior guard Kyle Guy was named Most Outstanding Player.
Guy expressed that the team was in a “dark place”, after the loss to UMBC last year. The Cavaliers were humiliated and embarrassed for themselves, the community, families, and program.
“To be able to redeem all that, and give this program something that’s never happened before is all that I could ever want,” said Guy.
On the other hand, this was also the first appearance for Texas Tech in the NCAA championship game. Tech is not used to winning championships in any sport to be specific. Tech has one championship in school history, and that was in 1993 lead by Sheryl Swoopes as she led the women’s basketball team to victory.
Texas Tech Red Raiders coach Chris Beard has been the Head coach for three seasons, taking tech to its previous best NCAA run to the Elite Eight which was last year. This year’s Red Raiders team was led by graduate transfer Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens, as well as seniors Norense Odiase and Brandone Francis.
Beard congratulated the Cavaliers. He spoke of them as being a “team of destiny,” and to their talent. “The poise, and they just find ways to win. I just want to congratulate them, and their program,” said Beard, who had high remarks for the Cavaliers. “In terms of my guys, I’ve never been more proud in coaching. This is real life. We’ll bounce back. I’m just so proud of those guys.”
The 2019 redemption did not have many familiar teams. Missing were the usuals such as Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and UCLA. This was the first time in a long time these teams were not featured, since 1987 to be exact.