Get ready, college basketball fans, the entire season comes down to Monday night’s battle between Texas Tech and Virginia in the Championship Game of the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Monday night’s matchup is a face-off between two programs that would never be mistaken for college basketball royalty: Virginia hasn’t reached the NCAA Final Four since 1984 and has never played in the championship game; Texas Tech has never made the Final Four before, let alone a championship game.
The game is expected to be a clinic on defense. Virginia is the top ranked defensive team in the country, as opponents only scored 55.5 point per game against them during the regular season. Texas Tech is the third ranked defensive team nationwide, with opponents averaging a mere 58.8 points per game. Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter and Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver will supply ample star power, as both players are projected to be top picks in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Virginia, the No. 1 seed in the South region, made it to the championship game after defeating Auburn in controversial fashion Saturday night during their Final Four semifinal. Guard Ty Jerome was not called for an apparent double dribble as time wound down, and then guard Kyle Guy earned a foul call while shooting a desperation three-pointer with 0.6 seconds left, where he proceeded to sink all three free throws to give Virginia a 63-62 win.
Texas Tech has taken a bit more of a methodical route to the title game. The No. 3 seed Red Raiders have been suffocating teams in the West region all-tournament with their defense, including holding Michigan to 44 points in the Sweet 16. In Saturday’s Final Four semifinal game, Texas Tech dispatched No. 2 seed Michigan State in a 61-51 victory that included 22 points from guard Matt Mooney.
On Monday night, one of these unheralded basketball programs, Virginia or Texas Tech, will be crowned NCAA champion for the first time in school history.