Virginia’s redemption tour is complete, wins its first NCAA men’s basketball national title

Updated 2:18 PM EDT, Tue April 9, 2019
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(CNN) —  

History was guaranteed at the NCAA men’s basketball championship on Monday, with the Virginia Cavaliers and Texas Tech Red Raiders making their debuts in the national final.

And when it was over, redemption for Virginia was complete.

A year after becoming the first No. 1 seed in men’s college basketball history to lose to a No. 16 seed in the NCAA tournament, the Cavaliers are national champions, defeating No. 3 seed Texas Tech 85-77 in overtime at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

“We were destined to win,” Virginia redshirt sophomore De’Andre Hunter, who led all scorers with 27 points, said to Westwood One. “We had to.”

It almost felt like it was a script for a movie. Winning a title was a fitting ending considering how 2018 ended for Virginia (35-3).

After being shocked by No. 16 seed University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in the NCAA tournament last season – the Cavaliers lost that one by 20 points – Virginia was the lone No. 1 seed to reach the Final Four this year.

“When they come into my office, I got a poster of Rocky on the steps,” Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said to CBS. “And I told them, I just want a chance at a title fight one day.”

For Cavaliers junior Kyle Guy, who was named most outstanding player and had 24 points, he believed “this is how this it was supposed to end,” he told Westwood One.

“That’s a dark place that I think a lot of us were in,” Guy said of losing to UMBC last year. “There was humiliation, embarrassment for ourselves and our families and the program. To be able to redeem all that, and give this program something that’s never happened before is all that I could ever want.”

Bennett, whose father Dick Bennett led Wisconsin to a Final Four in 2000, joined exclusive company when reaching the Final Four, making him part of the second father-son pair to reach the Final Four as head coaches. The other duo is John Thompson Jr. (Georgetown in 1982, 1984, 1985) and John Thompson III (Georgetown, 2007).

“I think every father would love to see his son do a heck of a lot better than he did,” Dick Bennett said to Westwood One.

This was the third Final Four appearance for the Cavaliers and first since 1984.