March Madness: Why Virginia wins National Championship ... and why they won't

The field of teams in the NCAA Tournament has been whittled down to four and each has the opportunity to cut down the championship nets in Minneapolis.

These are the reasons why the Virginia Cavaliers could win the title…and why they won’t.


1. They’ve been the best team all season

The Cavaliers, with a chip on their shoulders after last year’s March Madness loss, have lost just three of 36 games – two games to top-seeded Duke and the ACC Conference Championship Game to a red-hot Florida State. They’re the last No. 1 seed remaining in the field and it’s not a fluke.

2. Textbook defense

In four games, Virginia has sent opponents to the free throw line a total of 28 times – just seven shots a game. That is almost unheard of in modern college basketball. They play sound defense and don’t pick up stupid fouls that could change the complexion of a game.

3. The best scoring balance in the tournament

Virginia gets scoring from all its starters and it has been spread out evenly in the tournament – Ty Jerome (15.5 ppg), De’Andre Hunter (13.5), Mamadi Diakite (13.0) and Kyle Guy (9.3). If one key player struggles, the others can pick up the slack.

4. Turnovers

Virginia has a great assist-to-turnover ratio of 38:21 in their last three games. They hold on to the ball and don’t give away points by making mental mistakes.

5. The versatility of Hunter and Jerome

Not only have they been the top-two Virginia scorers, Hunter has 18 rebounds and Jerome has 16 rebounds and 22 assists. They have also combined to make 14-of-16 free throws, giving Virginia a dynamic 1-2 backcourt punch.


1. Kyle Guy’s struggles

Guy was Virginia’s leading scorer all year, took more 3-point shots than the next two Cavs combined and averaged 46.3 percent from long distance. In four tournament games, he has made just eight of 38 shots (21.1 percent) and keeps firing them up despite his struggles.

2. 3-point shooting in general

Guy has stunk, but the team as a whole hasn’t fared much better. Virginia has made just 32 of 107 3-pointers (29.9 percent). That gives away far too many empty possessions.

3. A thin bench

Outside of the starting five, only center Jack Salt and guard Brandon Key have averaged more than 9½ minutes a game. They have combined to average less than 10 points a game, so foul trouble or injuries could cause big problems.

4. An easy run

Nobody got to the Final Four with an easier path than Gardner-Webb (No. 16), Oklahoma (No. 9), Oregon (No. 12) and Purdue (No. 3). Everyone else had to take out a No. 1 to get to Minneapolis.

5. The Ghost of Baltimore County

Virginia became the first No. 1 seed to ever lose to a No. 16 seed last year and G-W put a scare in them in the first round this year. They don’t have the intimidation factor many No. 1 seeds have.

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