NCAA Men’s Basketball: Texas Tech set to battle Virginia in National Championship


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Virginia’s #5 after a final four win

Kevin Fielder, Staff Writer

After 66 college basketball games in the month of March, two teams continue their push to a National Championship with one final matchup. The finale pits two college basketball teams who have yet to win a National Championship with the Virginia Cavaliers, who have been to four Final Fours and the Texas Tech Red Raiders, who made their first Final Four appearance.

Just five seasons ago, Texas Tech was 13-19 (3-15 in conference) under head coach Tubby Smith. The Red Raiders had failed to make it past the first round of the NCAA Tournament and only made the tournament once. Smith’s tenure, which ended with a 46-50 overall record, was a failure by all intents of the word.

Following Smith’s firing, the Red Raiders went with the relatively unknown Chris Beard, who previously coached at Little Rock for a season. Since then, the Red Raiders have compiled a 76-31 total record and made the Regional Finals of the NCAA Tournament just last season.

This season, the Red Raiders’ strong defense and performances by legitimate NBA prospect Jarrett Culver and senior guard Matt Mooney have propelled themselves to not only the top of the Big 12 world but the top of the college basketball world.

Culver and Mooney have combined for 20 total points and 9 rebounds. The former in Culver has propelled themselves to top five in the NBA Draft territory and is widely considered the leader in the second tier of NBA prospects.

The way the Red Raiders are going to beat Virginia in Minnesota is their defense. Over the course of the season, the Red Raiders have allowed just 59 points a game, which ranks third in the nation. The reason the defense has jumped to the top of the charts is because of their ability to quickly switch between the zone and man defense.

On the other side of the court will be the Virginia Cavaliers, who are coming off one of the most embarrassing losses in the history of sports just a season prior.

After losing to 16-seed UMBC in last season’s NCAA Tournament, the Cavaliers have completely turned it around led by guards Kyle Guy and De’Andre Hunter, who both average over 15 points a game.

Even with the large impact by Hunter, Guy was widely been considered the leader of the team. Playing as the point guard, the offense and defense runs through Guy. He’s widely responsible for relaying the calls from head coach Tony Bennett to the rest of the team, ensuring continuity throughout the game.

Much like Texas Tech, Virginia is known for its defense. The Cavaliers have allowed a nation’s best 56 points per game and have allowed opposing offenses to shoot just 37% which is historically low compared to the average in both college basketball and the NBA alike.

Regardless of who the winner is, expect a defensive battle. While both teams can struggle to score at points, the two teams can play a beautiful game of defense  that can lead to games that finish in the 60s and 50s for both teams.