The NCAA men’s basketball national championship took place on Monday, April 8, at U.S Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Texas Tech Red Raiders matched up against the Virginia Cavaliers.
Texas Tech’s path to the championship made a statement to the whole country. The Raiders played an easy opponent in Northern Kentucky in the first round, winning 72-52. In the second round, the Texas Tech Raiders faced the Buffalo Bulls, which was another relatively easy opponent. By the third round, the Texas Tech Raiders had a series of strong opponents. The Raiders played the second-seeded Michigan Wolverines. That game showcased the Raiders’ excellent defense as they held the Wolverines to only 44 points. In the Elite Eight, Texas Tech faced off the first seed, Gonzaga Bulldogs. A close, back and forth game with the best team on that side of the bracket led to a big win for the Raiders, as they won 75-69. By the Final Four, the whole country had seen the great performances that Texas Tech had put together. The Raiders played Michigan State in the Final Four beating them in a close defensive battle, 61-51.
The Virginia Cavaliers had a very lackluster road to the championship game. They played many inferior teams on their road to the championship, but each team managed to make a close game regardless of the gap in talent and coaching. Gardner-Webb was the first opponent against the Cavaliers. With Virginia being a number 1 ranked team on their side of the bracket, and Gardner-Webb being a number sixteen seed, this game should have been a breeze for the Cavaliers; however, Virginia was losing at halftime, and they had to come up with a huge second half in order to win the game and keep their championship hopes alive. The second round of the tournament for Virginia was against the ninth seed, University of Oklahoma. This game was a simple win for the Cavaliers, moving them to the Sweet Sixteen against the twelve seeded Oregon Ducks. Although Virginia was favored heavily to win this game, they struggled against the Ducks for the whole game. The Elite Eight game for the Virginia Cavaliers contained a thrilling matchup against the 3 seed, Purdue Boilermakers. A game-tying shot from Mamadi Diakite sent the game into overtime, leading to a win for Virginia, and keeping the Cavaliers championship hopes alive. The Final Four game for the Virginia Cavaliers was a thrilling back and forth game, which ended in 3 game winning free throws from Virginia guard Kyle Guy.
The championship game was a exciting as it could get. The first half started out with a quick lead from the Virginia Cavaliers. This quick start appeared to show that Virginia would control this game from the beginning, but the Texas Tech Raiders proved otherwise. A quick run from the Raiders put them down three at the end of the first half. The second half was much of the same, as Virginia guard De’Andre Hunter created his 27 point tally for the whole game, and Kyle Guy put up 24 points. This half was very close, and the Raiders were able to tie the game, forcing it into overtime. The overtime period favored Virginia heavily, as they outscored the Raiders 17-9. This deemed the Virginia Cavaliers national champions, and Kyle Guy came away with the Final Four Most Valuable Player award in his senior year at Virginia.