MINNEAPOLIS — Virginia, a fine tortoise of a program using a warmish 114-year history, a bent for deliberative basketball and an unthinkable splat of 13 months ago, spent Monday night climbing the final jagged rungs into a pinnacle. When finally it made the closing, painful measures in overtime, attained the top and looked around, it knew a sense long associated only with other people such as Duke or North Carolina, the neighboring hares that constantly left it one of the overshadowed.
It had become the very first first-time men’s college basketball national winner in 13 decades, and may see back through the landscape of one hell of a story. It could see Texas Tech, the finalist Virginia outlasted by 85-77 in that , a team so good it’d hit the NCAA tournament like some great wind coming from the high plains of Lubbock, felling Michigan State, Gonzaga, Michigan and Buffalo.
Gaze back from up high, and Virginia could see the carnival of plays that helped it twist out of doom in life-shortening games against Purdue, Auburn and Texas Tech. Squint more difficult, and it might see 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 see the droves in orange and blue in U.S. Bank Stadium, reveling as noise cascaded from lovers who rarely dared dream of such a thing.
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