Tonight on CBS, the #1 Virginia Cavaliers will square off against #3 Texas Tech Red Raiders for the chance to win the national championship. These two very talented teams will both be playing for the opportunity to give their school its first NCAA men’s basketball title. This is going to be a defensive game played at a slow pace which involves half court offense and not a lot of fastbreaks. Las Vegas sports books have adjusted for these teams styles of play by setting the lowest over/under ever for a men’s basketball championship game at 118. Here are some things you should be looking for in the game tonight.
- Jarrett Culver (Texas Tech): After putting on an awful performance in their final four game against Michigan State, Culver will have the chance to redeem himself in the championship. He shot just 3-12 and had 1 point at halftime, but came up clutch when he made a floater that sealed the game for the Red Raiders. The projected lottery pick must step up in this game and knock down his shots or else it could be a long night for Texas Tech.
- Kyle Guy (UVA): As Dick Vitale loves to say, “This kid is a PTPer!” Indeed Guy is a prime time player as he knocked down his only 3 free throws of the night to send UVA to the championship game. Guy is one of the only true shooters the Cavaliers have and he plays a vital part in their offense. He has put up solid numbers over the last two games, but he needs to spread out his scoring instead of waiting for the last 2 minutes of the game to be heroic. If UVA gets Guy going in the first half, then they should cruise to their first championship.
- Defense: Both of these teams are known for their ability on the defensive end of the court. UVA leads the country is opponents points per game with only allowing 55.5, but Texas Tech is 3rd on that list with 58.8 points per game allowed. Interestingly, UVA does not turn the ball as they are ranked 8th in the county in fewest turnovers. Texas Tech is ranked 240th in that category, so if UVA takes advantage then they will win.
- Tariq Owens (Texas Tech) vs Mamadi Diakite (UVA): On Saturday, Owens took a beating and got knocked to the floor a lot in the win against Michigan State. After going up for a block, he rolled his ankle and looked as though he was going to be done for the rest of the season. Thankfully, the training staff was able to wrap his ankle and send him back out for the rest of the game. Owens is allowed to play, but we have to see if that ankle is going to bother him. He is an important piece as he leads the Red Raiders in blocks per game and field goal percentage. Owens will be going up against Diakite who has been one of the saviors for UVA. Diakite has been a defensive force for UVA averaging 2.8 blocks a game in the tournament.
- UVA vs UMBC memes: A year ago, UVA was the first #1 seed to lose in the first round to a #16 seed. This year UVA has redeemed itself by getting to the national championship, but that game will only be forgotten with a win in tonight’s game. If UVA fails to win, go check twitter after the game to see people bringing back the meme and never letting UVA fans forget about the biggest choke of all time.
- Celebrities: Patrick Mahomes, the superstar who took the NFL by storm this year is repping his college and will be in attendance tonight supporting his college, Texas Tech. If the cameras are showing him flexing and smiling, then you know Texas Tech is winning the game. On the UVA side, basketball hall of famer Ralph Sampson will be in attendance.
- One Shining Moment: It has been a tradition that after the game, CBS plays a video that looks back at the highlights of the tournament to the song, “One Shining Moment.” Once the video is over, it marks the true ending of the amazing season and starts the clock on when the next season will start.
For fans who enjoy the true fundamentals of the game and love to see good defense, this is going to be a fun game for you. It might be slow and low scoring, but it will be a very efficient game. The game starts at 9:20 ET and UVA is favored by 1.5 points.