MINNEAPOLIS — Virginia, a fine tortoise of a program with a warmish 114-year history, a knack for deliberative basketball and also an unthinkable splat of 13 weeks ago, spent Monday night climbing the final jagged rungs into a pinnacle. When finally it made the closing, painful measures in overtime, attained the very top and looked about, it understood a sense associated only with other people such as Duke or North Carolina, the neighboring hares that always left it among the overshadowed.
It had become the first first-time men’s college basketball national winner in 13 years, and may see back through the landscape of one hell of a story. It might see Texas Tech, the finalist Virginia outlasted by 85-77 in that , a group so great it’d struck the NCAA tournament like a great wind coming off 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 wriggle from doom in life-shortening matches from Purdue, Auburn and Texas Tech. Squint harder, and it might see 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 from Maryland Baltimore County, the nadir of a five years of tortured Marches. Yet right in the front, it might see the droves in orange and blue in U.S. Bank Stadium, reveling as sound cascaded from lovers who seldom dared dream of anything.
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