With plenty of large upsets and a strong elite eight, the ending of March Madness didn’t disappoint. In the end though, only two teams could get those championship game spots, and this year it was the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Virginia Cavaliers. The game could not have been a more even match either, with both teams forcing the game into overtime. In the extra period, Virginia pulled ahead from Texas Tech, resulting in their title as 2019 NCAA March Madness Champions.
The result of the game was redemption for the previous year. Last season, Virginia was the first seeded team, however they didn’t make it past the first round. University of Maryland Baltimore County, the 16th seed, knocked off Virginia 74-54. This was the first time in NCAA history that a 16th seed had beat a number one seed in March Madness. This embarrassing statistic was completely erased from people’s minds as the team went all the way this season.
Virginia pushed ahead to 15-7 to start the game, but were soon passed themselves when Texas made a run to make it 23-21 in the Red Raiders’ favor. Both teams continued to trade runs on offense, minimally locking down their defenses. At the half, Virginia led by a single 3-pointer thanks to second-year guard De’Andre Hunter, who dropped the bucket in with 1.2 seconds remaining in the half.
Once out of the locker room, both teams hit the court with a serious intensity. The momentum from the last minute three carried Virginia as they led the entire second half until the last minute of play. In these 60 seconds Texas Tech second-year guard Jarett Culver had a beautiful spin move in traffic to lay it off of the glass and put the team up by one. The next possession by the Red Raiders saw another two points, increasing the lead to three. Down but not out, Virginia needed a 3-pointer to win. With their nearly 50 percent shooting from beyond the arc, this was looking like a strong possibility. Third-year guard Ty Jerome carried the ball up and easily made it into the paint, then located Hunter in the corner and dished him the rock. Hunter took the open shot with just seconds left to decide the fate of the tournament. The ball went in, making it a tied game.
In overtime, both teams kept within three points of one another until Virginia broke free thanks to a series of highlight plays. With a strong surge from third-year guard Kyle Guy, the team launched ahead and stayed ahead in these last minutes to win the game with a score of 85-77.
This is the first time Virginia has ever won the national championship. Not only that, but with only one player on the team graduating, it is very possible that Virginia will find its way back to a high ranked team next season. This was certainly a championship game for the history books, and a great story of redemption.