NCAA Tournament Final Four
By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com
The beauty of sports can easily be found on any playground or ball field around the country. Players trying to one-up each other in fair-minded competition. As leagues formed and teams began to play, some assert their dominance and the smaller, less well-known teams become less relevant by some viewers. This is not far from what happened in this year’s NCAA Final Four Tournament. Auburn took out North Carolina then Kentucky last week and Michigan State beat Duke on route to their Final Four Appearance.
Minneapolis, Minnesota would be the scene one of the best college basketball championship games in Tournament history. Texas Tech and Virginia earned their way to the championship game by knocking teams that have been playing terrific college basketball. Let’s review how these teams got to play for this season’s NCAA Tournament Championship.
Having knocked out a pair of the most recognizable teams in college basketball the Auburn Tigers lost a controversial game to the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday night. That game against the Tigers came down to a questionable foul called, on a three-point shot, in the final seconds of the game that gave Virginia a chance to take the lead with less than one second on the game clock. Kyle Guy confidently went to the line and knocked down each one of those free throws to win the game for the Cavaliers, sending them to their first ever NCAA Championship game.
In a tightly contested defensive matchup the Texas Tech Red Raiders outlasted the Michigan State Spartans. Matt Mooney’s three 3-point shots mid-way through the second half gave the Red Raiders the burst of offense they needed. Lubbock, then Texas, native and Big 12 Conference Player of the Year Jarret Culver then made just enough big-time buckets to close the game out for Texas Tech, sending them to their first ever NCAA Championship game.
This was the 1st time, in nearly 40 years that both teams have reached the NCAA Tournament Championship game for this first time in the same season. With this matchup of these defensive-minded teams, one would guess that we would see a low scoring game. It was just that through the first half as the game ended with Virginia up by three points 32-29.
The Cavaliers led by 8 with under 6 minutes to go in the second half. Texas Tech responded with a couple of 3 point plays to shrink the lead, before Texas Tech leading scorer Culver gave them the lead on a smooth drive to the hoop, with under 30 seconds in the game. Up by 3, If I’m Texas Tech, I’m instructing my team to intentionally foul the Cavaliers allowing them to only score 2 points on that possession. Instead, the Virginia point guard came down and penetrated the paint and kicked out too, the game’s leading scorer, De’Andre Hunter who knocked down 3, of his career-high 27 points, to tie up the ballgame and send the game into overtime.
Though Brandon Francis of Texas Tech chipped in 17 points off the bench, their long and lanky defender Tariq Owens fouled out in regulation and was not available in overtime. The Cavaliers led by Hunter and Kyle Guy’s 24 points opened up an insurmountable lead, in OT, to close out their first ever NCAA Basketball Championship victory.
This game was another example of why they play the game. On paper the appeared to be an unsexy match up with one young team in Texas Tech and the only #1 seed to ever lose to a #16 in Virginia. This was, in fact, the 8th overall National Championship Game to go into overtime and the 1st since 2008. Although my bracket was busted once Auburn upset of North Carolina, the Texas Tech Red Raiders showed true grit while the Virginia Cavaliers displayed championship resolve to bounce back from last season’s disappointment to become 2019 NCAA National Champions this season. If you like basketball, you had to enjoy this game. Please share your thoughts on the National Championship game and if you would’ve fouled as the game came to a close in regulation, by reaching out to me on @whatsgoodinsports on twitter or commenting in the comment section of this article on www.whatsgoodinsports.com.