One year ago, the Virginia Cavaliers were the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in the NCAA tournament. Now, they're champions for the first time in men's program history.
Virginia defeated the Texas Tech Red Raiders 85-77 in Monday's 2019 NCAA men's basketball national championship game.
With 12.9 seconds left in regulation, De'Andre Hunter hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 68 and send it to overtime. Hunter stepped up big again in overtime, connecting from long range to put Virginia ahead 75-73 with 2:10 remaining.
From there, Virginia pulled away. Braxton Key put an exclamation point on the victory with a breakaway two-handed jam.
Given what they went through in 2018, the Cavaliers players were understandably emotional after the final buzzer.
The reaction wasn't limited to Minneapolis.
Ty Jerome finished with 16 points, eight assists and six rebounds. The junior guard sought out some of his family members in the stands when the game ended.
Hunter led all scorers with 27 points, adding nine rebounds to an excellent all-around effort. He definitely earned the piece of the net he saved from U.S. Bank Stadium.
Kyle Guy took home Final Four's Most Outstanding Player honors. He had 24 points and three rebounds on Monday night and also sank the decisive free throws in Virginia's semifinal win over the Auburn Tigers. The images from the last two tournaments certainly presented a stark contrast for Guy.
CBS Sports shared Tony Bennett's postgame comments. The Virginia head coach recounted how he drew inspiration from the movie Rocky and used the film as a source of motivation for his players. Bennett also put the finishing touches on the 2019 tournament bracket, placing Virginia's sticker in the space reserved for the national champion.
Beyond just the sting of last year's opening-round loss to the UMBC Retrievers, Bennett has faced numerous questions about whether his defense-first approach was holding back the Cavaliers in the tournament. Despite enjoying a lot of success in the regular season, Virginia had just one Elite Eight appearance in Bennett's first nine seasons.
This title is an emphatic statement as to Bennett's tactical acumen.
And with only one senior (Jack Salt) on the roster, Virginia might be right back in the Final Four in 2020.