A year after becoming the first No. 1 seed in men's basketball history to lose a No. 16 seed in the NCAA tournament, Virginia has reached the title game and beats No. 5 seed Auburn at the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis .
"To think this year, we started our spring training and still played at this point in the season with, after tonight, another team across the country on the stage that you've been dreaming about since you were a little kid, is an unreal feeling, "said Virginia security guard Ty Jerome. "We're going to do everything we can to get the job done."
The Cavaliers will face No. 3 seed Texas Tech, a bit of a surprising finalist. The Red Raiders defeated in their first Final Four No. 2 seed Michigan State 61-51 in a tough fight in the second semifinal.
"Why not us?" Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard said. "We have good players, we have a great university, we play in the best competition in the country, we won the regular championships of the Big 12. We are a good team, we have good players. I think we deserve to to be here. & # 39;
The men's championship is Monday at 9 p.m. ET. It will be the first meeting between the two programs & # 39; s and neither team has won a national title.
Virginia & # 39; s victory was far from certain.
Auburn had a 62-60 lead with 1.5 seconds to go. But Virginia & Kyle Guy was soiled by Auburn's Samir Doughty during the launch of a buzzer-beater attempt with 0.6 seconds remaining. He hit all three free throws and gave the Cavaliers the 63-62 victory.
"These are moments that every basketball player has dreamed of, that hit the winning shot or free throws or whatever," Guy said. "I had such a feeling in your stomach, like a good nervousness, like, okay, this is my chance. To be able to go to the national championship there for those gentlemen and (head coach Tony) Bennett, I mean, really have no words. "
J.D. Collins, the national coordinator of the NCAA officer, issued a statement about the error.
"The call was made by the official James Breeding, who decided that Doughty involved the shooter in the air and made contact with Guy as he removed his landing area," Collins said. "The error was a violation of Rule 4, Section 39.i, which states:" Verticality applies to a legal position and also to both the attacking and the defending players. "The basic components of the verticality principle are: the defender must not" belly up "or use the lower part of the body or arms to cause contact outside of his vertical plane or in the vertical plane of the opponent."
In addition to the error, there was a no-call where fans were talking. It seemed that officials were missing a double dribble from Jerome, which happened a few seconds before Guy crashed. If that turnover were called, Auburn would have had the ball too late instead of Virginia.
"I feel for Auburn, but I feel better for us now, and I'm just grateful that these guys stepped and played the way we wanted and got through," Bennett said. "Survive and move forward, I assume that will get a new meaning."
Jerome led all the scorers with 21 points. Guy had 15, while De & # 39; Andre Hunter had 14 for Virginia.
Doughty had 13 points for Auburn, while Bryce Brown and Jared Harper had 12 and 11 points respectively.
A football school that plays for a basketball title
Texas Tech has only one team sport with a national championship in the history of the school. That came from the women's basketball team in 1993 under the leadership of the legendary Sheryl Swoopes.
The men's basketball team now has the chance to make two.
A school nowadays better known for football – NFL MVP and the former Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes were present on Saturday – Texas Tech and the Red Raiders have made rapid ascension.
Thanks to a stingy defense, Texas Tech (31-6) eliminated No. 2 seed Michigan and number 1 seed Gonzaga to reach the Final Four, and now Michigan State (32-7).
Led by Beard for the past three seasons, Texas Tech is now a year after reaching the Elite Eight in the championship game. coach of the year is only a four-year coach in Division I – the highest level in the NCAA -.
He previously coached in Division II for Angelo State and McMurry University in Division III (both in Texas) and for the South Carolina Warriors of the American Basketball Association (ABA). His first two main coaching opportunities came at the junior college level with Fort Scott Community College in Kansas and Seminole State College in Oklahoma.
"I wouldn't trade my experiences for anything," Beard said earlier this week when he accepted the AP coach of the annual prize. "I am very proud of my background, of the small university and primary school and of Division II. I feel that I represent a lot of people, maybe people I don't even know."
The leaders of the rosters include seniors Norense Odiase, Tariq Owens and Matt Mooney and sophomore Jarrett Culver. On Saturday, Mooney – who stopped with Air Force and South Dakota before arriving at Texas Tech this season – was the top scorer of the game with 22 points in 8-of-16 shooting.
"It was a dent from a trip," Mooney said. "Many people helped me get to this point, helped me on my way. You know, this is – I now live the dream."
Cassius Winston had 16 points for Michigan State.
"Very rarely in my career have we dropped out a bit and tonight was one of those nights," said national coach Tom Izzo, who is 2-6 in the national semi-final.
No blue blood
Winning a title would be a good end if you consider how 2018 ended for Virginia. After being shocked by No. 16 seed University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in the NCAA tournament last season, Virginia (34-3) is the only number 1 seed to reach the Final Four this year.
This year's Final Four, NCAA, has a slightly different feel. Missing this year are the well-known established blue blood: this is the first Final Four since 1987 that has no Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville or UCLA.
Instead, the most experienced team to make the Final Four – and the only one to win a championship – was Michigan State and won it all in 2000 and 1979.
Until Saturday, Auburn and Texas Tech had never been in a Final Four. This is Virginia & # 39; s third Final Four gig and the first since 1984.
Although there was no real Cinderella in this year's Final Four, the closest was Auburn (30-10).
The Tigers beat three of those blue blood – Kansas, UNC and Kentucky – on their way to Minneapolis, making Auburn the only team to beat those programs in consecutive games in NCAA tournament history.
"I think we thought we looked like we belonged," head coach Bruce Pearl said to Virginia after Saturday's loss. "We shouldn't have been here, we didn't have a chance to win – or maybe we had a chance to win, but unlikely. game. "