Virginia Won March Madness — But Few Thought They Would

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Going into this year’s March Madness, nobody expected the Virginia Cavaliers to walk away victorious. Even though the Cavaliers were chosen as a No. 1 seed, most sports fans and commentators bet more strongly on this year’s other three No. 1 seeds: Duke, North Carolina, and Gonzaga. After all, in 2018, Virginia made history as the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed.

Then, last night, Virginia won the NCAA tournament championship game.

The game, in which Virginia faced the Texas Tech Red Raiders, started off in Virginia’s favor. Virginia carried a 10-point lead through the early stages in the game, but Texas Tech snuck up from behind to take a 3-point lead of its own. However, De’Andre Hunter, a sophomore whom some say has NBA potential, sunk a dramatic three-pointer to tie the game with a mere 12 seconds left in regulation. In the extra period, Hunter one-upped himself, landing yet another three-pointer with just over two minutes left on the clock and officially sealing Virginia’s victory.

Hunter was additionally named to the five-person Final Four All-Tournament team, as were two of his teammates, Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy (the other two All-Tournament team members are Texas Tech players Jarrett Culver and Matt Mooney). Jerome, Guy, and Hunter scored 67 of the 85 points that Virginia earned against Texas Tech during last night’s game. Guy was also named Most Outstanding Player, perhaps the most coveted designation a player can achieve during March Madness.

At the start of the tournament, Guy seemed an unlikely prospect for the Most Oustanding Player award. After a three-game slump, he scored 24 points and five three-pointers in Virginia’s game against Purdue, and he scored the game-winning free throws in a vital game against Auburn. During last night’s championship game, he scored 24 points, just as he did against Purdue, and four three-pointers. By comparison, Jerome scored 16 points, and Hunter scored 27 points — not to mention those game-winning three-pointers.

Leading up to last night’s game, Virginia was running a remarkably strong record, with only three losses accompanying its 34 wins. However, early in the NCAA tournament, it seemed as though the team would relive its 2018 horrors of losing to a 16 seed. In a game against Garner-Webb, Virginia found itself behind by 14 points, but they rallied and regained their lead. Similarly, in Virginia’s games against Auburn and Purdue, the team pulled miracles and regained deficits that other teams might not have been able to regain.

Upon Virginia’s win, students in Charlottesville raced outside to celebrate, flooding campus walkways and local streets. A bit further north, in New York, the Empire State Building changed the lighting of its world-famous antenna to the blue, orange, and white shades of the team’s logo.

Virginia’s victory in last night’s game marks the first time that the team has won the NCAA championship, an accomplishment to which the team has inched close many times. This year marked the team’s third time making it to the Final Four of March Madness.

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