Miracle of Virginia and Texas Tech lesson: we already have a final

Auburn loses a game he had won with final controversy. Michigan State, the last illustrious victim of the wild defense of the Red Raiders.


Drama, passion, emotion, great stories, incredible endings ... all that is March Madness, all that is the Final Four, and all that was again in the 2019 semifinals, at the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, home of the Vikings (NFL), where 72,711 people enjoyed (and suffered) with semifinals that came out alive, surely never better said, Virginia and Texas Tech. On the one hand the great favorite after the defeats of Duke, Gonzaga and Kentucky, and on the other a team that is a kind of soul-eating Cinderella, the Red Raiders of Chris Beard, a university program that almost five years ago did not bring people to his pavilion and tomorrow he will play for the national title thanks to a historically fearsome defense, to a bomb-proof competitive toughness ... and to his war song, the Old Town Road in which Lil Nas X fuses, or confronts, the two Americas, the country one and the hip hop one. The one of Beard and the one of its players, to 40 minutes now of the first title of Texas Tech in masculine category, the second after the obtained by the feminine equipment in 1993.

Michigan State remained without answers

Texas Tech surpassed to Michigan State, lengthened to a decade the section of Tom Izzo without triumphs in the Final Four and burst (he has not done anything else during the tournament) which seemed the most likely end. The Spartans, after overcoming the Duke of Zion Williamson, could not do more than the rest of the country's teams against an armored, infernal defense: 44 total points at halftime (21-23), and at the end of season minimum points (51) and shooting percentage (31.9%) for the Spartans, who fell (51-61) finally killed by Jarrett Culver. The second-year guard, a player out of nowhere and therefore a personification of his team, points to the top 5 of the draft. In the semifinal, and with the whole country watching, he was not having a good day (0/6 in the first half), but he closed the game with 9 points out of his 10 points, 6 when Michigan State had taken one. In the partial 0-9 final, he scored a suspension, a free throw and the triple frontal that closed any option of a sunken opponent (51-58 a minute from the end) .

To Culver will be the spotlights, but Texas Tech does not he would have won without the work of the anchor Tariq Owens (who got injured and came back), Davide Moretti, Brandone Francis ... and Matt Mooney, a fifth-year player who arrived from South Dakota and who, at the age of 24, made the match his life and scored 22 points with 4 triples, three almost in a row at takeoff (35-48) that seemed definite before his team linked five minutes without scoring and Michigan State put one on the basis of, basically, going to the free throw line. Then appeared Culver.

Virginia survives in an incredible way

The last obstacle of Texas Tech is the Cavaliers of Virginia, who won 63-62 to an Auburn that was close, very close, incredibly close to culminating their miraculous tournament and leave an absolutely unlikely final . It will also be this, the first with two rookies in the fight for the title since the 1979, the mythical Larry Bird-Magic Johnson (Indiana State-Michigan State) . A game that changed the history of basketball. But at least Virginia was one of the big favorites at the gates of the Madness, which does not imply that she had to cling to every little bit of luck that fate had for her after last season, before UMBC, the first seed eliminated at the start of the tournament by a seed 16.

From there, more than twelve months ago, Tony Bennett's team has lived with the shadow of that defeat and has danced among crocodiles during the tournament, avoiding snapping almost in each station living by a miracle to be in the final. First against Purdue, with the basket in extremis that forced the extension, and in the semifinals before some Tigers that had the victory in the pocket after a partial 0-14: from 57-47 (to 5:24 of the end) to 57 -61 in the absence of only 17 seconds. Then came Kyle Guy, who scored a tremendous triple from the right corner (60-61) and when Jared Harper missed one of his free throws (60-62), he ended up receiving on the left to rise desperately at the last second: failure ... but controversial (and avoidable, especially avoidable) lack of Samir Doughty. Three free throws, all three inside, and 63-62. And Guy turned into the hero of a team previously powered by Ty Jerome (21 + 9 + 6) and the other top 10 of the next draft that will play, against Culver, the grand final: De'Andre Hunter, a defender and shooter ( 3 + D) that ended with 14 points and 5 rebounds.

They made many in that final 6-1 that caused the rollover: Auburn not only complained about the final foul, which actually did appear because Doughty invaded the space of the shooter. TOIn fact, with the Tigers about to consume the remaining fouls, Jerome seemed to commit doubles by raising the ball at the start of the attack ... but he could (maybe) receive a foul just before his unmarked offense. The case is that Auburn, who has reached the doors of the final despite the terrible injury of his star, Chuma Okeke, lost a game that in the second half deserved to win and left an incredible end and one of those glorious defeats that populate the story of a Final Four that will now attend the final chapter of the redemption of Virginia. It will be before the mobile hell of the defense of Texas Tech. But if there is someone who is not scared at all, after his blunder of 2018 and his episodes of escapism in 2019, it is precisely the Virginia of Tony Bennett. So you can not bet that it's going to be a very showy final but there's no doubt about one thing: it's going to be a tremendous final.



Photos from as.com

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