A year after exiting the court as a picture of embarrassment, the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 in the men’s NCAA tournament, Virginia left wearing a crown on Monday night. The Cavaliers defeated Texas Tech, 85-77, in overtime for the university’s first national basketball championship, which carried with it immeasurable redemption. “Forget last year,” Virginia’s Ty Jerome said. “This is everything you dream of since you’re a little kid.”
This title game was the first in 40 years between men’s teams that had never been there before. The last one was the showdown in which Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team beat Larry Bird and Indiana State in Salt Lake City.
Virginia didn’t just win its first national title last night, it shed its label as a postseason underachiever and exorcised the demons that have shadowed the Cavaliers for the last year. Those early March exists? That humiliating loss to UMBC? They may not be forgotten, but they have lost their venomous sting. “As soon as the buzzer sounded and we were done (last year), we knew all had the same goal in mind for next year and that was to win a national championship,” Kyle Guy said after Virginia had done just that.