Fans of uptempo offenses aren’t going to be thrilled with the NCAA championship game matching Virginia and Texas Tech.
The finalists are defensive-minded teams that play many long possessions and don’t score often in transition. This won’t be a track meet kind of game. Tech leads the nation in defensive efficiency, the Cavaliers in scoring defense.
But Virginia is a superb shooting team, hitting 39 percent of its three-pointers, and Tech has a standout in Jarrett Culver, who averages nearly 20 points per game. Culver had only 10 against Michigan State in the semifinals, so a big game may be in order.
The winner will celebrate their school’s first national championship in men’s basketball.
Texas Tech vs Virginia
▪ Time/TV: 8:20 p.m. CT, CBS
▪ Of note: There is some injury news. Tech front-liner Tariq Owens wasn’t with the team during media sessions on Sunday. He suffered an ankle sprain in Saturday’s semifinal victory against Michigan State but Coach Chris Beard told a small group of reporters “I expect him to be [available] but I’m not sure what will happen. They’ll rehab it all day today.” Third-seeded Tech looks to become the second Big 12 team to win a NCAA hoop championship, joining Kansas. The Red Raiders (31-6) played lock down defense on Michigan State in the semifinal triumph, holding the Spartans to 32 percent shooting and 51 points. Top-seed Virginia (34-3) is the nation’s top team in scoring defense, holding opponents to 55.5 points per game. Kyle Guy’s free throws with 0.6 seconds remaining were the difference in the Cavaliers’ semifinal victory over Auburn. Virginia blocked nine Tigers shots, five by Mamadi Diakite. Virginia has trailed in the second half of eight of its last nine games. Tech has been a betting underdog in its previous three tournament games and defeated Michigan, Gonzaga and Michigan State by an average margin of 11.7 points.
▪ Line: Virginia by 1 1/2
▪ Prediction: Texas Tech 61-58