NCAA Championship Game 2019: Winner, MVP, Stats for Virginia vs. Texas Tech

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 8, 2019

Virginia guard Kyle Guy (5) dribbles the ball against Gardner Webb during the first half of a first-round game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Friday, March 22, 2019, in Columbia, S.C. Virginia defeated Gardner-Webb 71-56. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
Sean Rayford/Associated Press

For the first time since 2006, the NCAA men's basketball tournament will produce a first-time national champion. 

Virginia and Texas Tech are playing for the first national championship in their first title games in program history. 

The Cavaliers have more of a basketball history than the Red Raiders, but they haven't joined the other elite ACC programs as NCAA champions yet. 

If Virginia comes out on top Monday night, it would be the third different ACC team to win the NCAA tournament in the last five years, while Texas Tech is attempting to become the first Big 12 champion since Kansas in 2008.



Virginia over Texas Tech

Defensive play will be in the spotlight Monday night. 

Virginia and Texas Tech advanced through the first five rounds thanks to some clutch shooting, a little bit of luck and stingy all-around defense. 

The Red Raiders have given up fewer points from a defensive standpoint, but they don't have the arsenal of all-around scorers that the Virginia lineup possesses. 

Virginia will rely heavily on its guard duo of Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome to ignite its offense, but it will also attempt to pound the ball into the paint, where it has an offensive advantage. 

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Texas Tech is also going to be dependent on the offensive play of its guards, but in order to earn the title of national champion, it has to establish some paint presence. 

With Mamadi Diakite and Jack Salt playing well in the paint, the Cavaliers will have more consistent scorers on the floor as a complement to Guy, Jerome and Kihei Clark. 

The difference-maker will be Virginia's three-point defense, which held Auburn to a 9-for-31 clip Saturday. 

In their Final Four win over Michigan State, the Red Raiders scored 27 of their 61 points from three-point range. 

If Virginia limits Texas Tech's production from deep in what is projected to be a low scoring game, it will concede few easy shots and put Chris Beard's team under pressure from the start.



Mamadi Diakite, Virginia

Virginia knows it is going to get offensive production out of Guy, Jerome and De'Andre Hunter, but it needs an X-factor in the paint to secure the win. 

That's why Mamadi Diakite is going to be so important for the Cavaliers, as he won't show much fear going up against the Texas Tech duo of Tariq Owens and Norense Odiase. 

Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

Although Diakite only scored two points against Auburn, he's been a consistent threat down low for the Cavaliers for most of the NCAA tournament. 

The junior forward has three double-digit scoring performances, and he's come close to picking up a double-double on a few occasions.

In addition to going over 10 points, Diakite will be a menace on the defensive front against a Texas Tech frontcourt duo that hasn't been overly productive down low in the Big Dance.

Diakite comes into the national championship with 14 blocks in the last four games, and he'll be able to add to that total by rejecting a few advances to the rim by Owens and Odiase. 

The blocks and defensive rebounds hauled in by Diakite will stop Texas Tech from earning second-chance opportunities and allow Virginia to dictate the tempo of the contest. 


Stat Predictions

Jarrett Culver (12 points, 5-for-17 shooting, 4 rebounds, 2 assists) 

Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver is one of two potential NBA draft lottery picks participating in Monday's game, but he's displayed some flaws in his game throughout the NCAA tournament. 

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Culver's shot selection needs to improve when he gets to the next level, and it's going to end up hurting the Red Raiders. 

Culver was 3-for-12 from the field against Michigan State, and he went 5-for-19 versus Gonzaga in the Elite Eight. 

Texas Tech won't be able to deal with a plethora of missed shots by Culver because Virginia is expected to slow the pace of the game. 

The sophomore guard will knock down a few shots, but he won't be consistent enough against Virginia's backcourt defense to make the difference the Red Raiders need him to. 


Kyle Guy (18 points, 3-for-7 from 3-point range, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) 

Guy hasn't been efficient from the field either over the last five games, but he'll make an impact in all facets of the game to make up for poor shooting in stretches. 

The junior guard was 5-for-11 against Auburn, but in the three games prior to Saturday, he shot 14-for-49 from the field. 

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - APRIL 06: Kyle Guy #5 of the Virginia Cavaliers reacts after defeating the Auburn Tigers 63-62 during the 2019 NCAA Final Four semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 6, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Get
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Just like we mentioned above with Culver, Guy can't afford to miss a large amount of shots since every possession will be important Monday night. 

With that being said, Guy should look to be more patient with his shot and try to help his teammates create better looks. 

By picking out a few of his teammates for open shots, Guy will gain some confidence that will help him get into a shooting rhythm.

While he is known for being a three-point threat, Guy will also cause some trouble by driving into the lane and earning trips to the free-throw line, where he is 10-for-13 in the NCAA tournament.  


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.