Virginia Cavaliers win NCAA championship one year after historic upset by a 16th seed


Virginia Cavaliers forward, Mamadi Diakite. (Flickr picture/Sneakin Deacon)

Tyler Buckland, Reporter

One year after a historic loss to UMBC – a 16th seed going into the 2018 Division I men’s national basketball tournament that defeated a No. 1 rated, Virginia Cavaliers— something that had never been done in the tournament’s 79 years of existence.

Virginia returned to the tournament Monday night and were crowned national champions after defeating Texas Tech in overtime 85-77.

In a championship game many analysts thought would be a low scoring affair between two of the nation’s top defensive teams Texas Tech (3rd) and Virginia (1st) the game actually beat the projected over/under of 118 points with a combined 162 points scored.

The first half crawled for Texas Tech as they started 0/8 from the field.

Virginia’s Kyle Guy led all first half scorers with 10 points on 4 for 7 shooting and 2-for-4 from the 3pt line. Virginia also dominated on the glass as they out-rebounded Texas Tech 21-13 as the Cavaliers took the first half lead 32-29.

Virginia opened the second half strong with a 6-0 run to give the Cavaliers an early nine-point second half lead. Texas Tech was able to close the gap thanks to their bench that outscored Virginia’s 29-6, as Texas Tech’s Brandone Francis came off the bench with a team leading 17 points.

Texas Tech’s leading scorer sophomore Jarrett Culver struggled in this game shooting a mere 5 for 22 after an early 0-for-7 start. Culver did have a big layup to put Texas Tech up by one point with 35 seconds left in regulation and after a pair of made free throws by Norense Odiase Texas Tech went up by three points with 22 seconds to go.

De’Andre Hunter made a huge Three Point Jumper to tie the game up for Virginia 68-68. Hunter finished the game with a game-high and career-high 27 points to go along with nine rebounds.

After a back-and-forth few first possessions in overtime Virginia finally pulled away on a Hunter three-pointer giving them the 75-73 lead with two minutes and 10 seconds left. The Cavaliers did not relinquish the lead as they went on to close out the game multiple free-throws to the final score of 85-77.

“You have scares, right? You have a scare and it reminds you of that. You know it’s a memory and does it go away completely naw I wish it wouldn’t have happened in some ways. Now I say well if it bought us a ticket here so be. I’m thankful in a way for what happened,” said head coach Tony Bennett of the Virginia Cavaliers after the game Monday night in reference to last year’s disappointing upset loss to UMBC.

Texas Tech’s season comes to a disappointing end after over-achieving all season long they fell short of their ultimate goal.

“I just told them I love them,” said Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard in what he told his players after the disappointing championship loss.

Virginia wins their first ever national championship after making 21 tournament appearances as well as making it to the final four twice.