Virginia vs Texas Tech : Three weeks ago, 68 teams aspired to end the season with a national championship. After many exciting games, some upsets and numerous close finishes, the NCAA tournament has come down to this.
On Monday night, No. 1 seed Virginia and No. 3 seed Texas Tech will play for the national championship at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The winner will earn the first national title in its program’s history.
From 2012-17, the national championship game was decided by eight or fewer points each of those seasons. Last year, Villanova beat Michigan by 17 points. However, the Cavaliers and Red Raiders should play a competitive game, and it’s more likely that this year’s game will return to having a close finish.
Championship Game Information
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 3 Texas Tech: Monday at 9:20 p.m. ET on CBS
Championship Game Preview
Virginia and Texas Tech may be playing for the national championship this year, but these programs haven’t always been this strong. Neither has as rich a history as some of the powerhouse schools around college basketball.
For the Cavaliers, this was the first time they reached the Final Four since 1984. They had never won a national semifinal matchup, so this is their first appearance in the national championship game.
Although Virginia had some strong seasons, it mostly struggled from 1996-2011, making the NCAA tournament only three times during that stretch. And it only won one NCAA tourney game, never making it past the second round.
But when Tony Bennett took over as head coach prior to the 2009-10 season, the Cavaliers started to get back on the right track. They made the NCAA tournament in Bennett’s third year, beginning an active stretch of making it to March Madness in seven of eight seasons.
“When you come in and say, ‘This is going to happen. We’re going to be a Final Four team,’ or, ‘We’re going to win the ACC,’ you believe it, and you hope it, and then you just go to work,” Bennett told the media Monday. “That’s what it is.”
Virginia has lost only three games this season, and it lost only three games last year. Prior to that, the last three-loss season in program history was in 1924-25, in a campaign that featured only 17 games.
Texas Tech has had a similar rise to prominence. It made the NCAA tournament only once from 2006-15.
But the Red Raiders have had quick results under head coach Chris Beard. After missing the NCAA tournament in Beard’s first season in 2016-17, they made it last year. And not only that, but they made it to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history.
Even though the program had little success prior to Beard’s arrival—particularly in the postseason—Beard only had one motive when he arrived on Texas Tech’s campus.
“Our goal has never been to make a tournament. It’s been to win the tournament,” Beard told the media Monday. “It’s easy to talk about, and really, really hard to do. But that’s where we started this whole thing, was just trying to have the expectations and the vision where we could be relative.”
On Monday night, either Bennett or Beard will take their program to a whole new level.