MINNEAPOLIS — Virginia, a fine tortoise of a program with a warmish 114-year history, a bent for deliberative basketball and an unthinkable splat of 13 weeks ago, spent Monday night scaling the final jagged rungs to a pinnacle. When finally it made the final, painful steps in overtime, reached the top and looked around, it understood a sense associated only with other people such as Duke or North Carolina, the neighboring hares that constantly left it among the overshadowed.
It was the very first first-time men’s college basketball national champion in 13 years, and may see back across the landscape of one hell of a narrative. It might see Texas Tech, the finalist Virginia outlasted by 85-77 in that , a group so great it’d hit on the NCAA tournament like a fantastic wind coming from the large plains of Lubbock, felling Michigan State, Gonzaga, Michigan and Buffalo.
Gaze back from up high, and Virginia could observe the carnival of plays which helped it twist out of doom in life-shortening games against Purdue, Auburn and Texas Tech. Squint more difficult, and it might observe clear back to March 2018, when Virginia became the first No. 1 seed in tournament history to lose to a No. 16 seed, a bewildering 74-54 thud against Maryland Baltimore County, the nadir of a five years of tortured Marches. Yet right in front, it could observe the droves in orange and blue in U.S. Bank Stadium, reveling as sound cascaded from lovers who seldom dared dream of such a thing.
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