Welcome to our Decade of Basketball series, reminiscing about the greatest moments in the sport in the 2010s. Through video, we will relive the times from the last 10 years that bring goosebumps to the arms of those who witnessed them. Let’s celebrate the last decade of basketball and look forward to the next one we’re about to experience.
Virginia Wins 2019 Title
In 2018, as the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, Virginia became the first-ever top seed to lose to a No. 16 seed, falling 74-54 to UMBC in one of the greatest upsets in sports history. That game was one of the great moments in the past Decade of Basketball, but perhaps what makes it that much more illustrious is how the Cavaliers responded in their next opportunity to make amends.
Virginia returned a good deal of talent from its 2017-18 team, with the likes of Kyle Guy, De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome and Mamadi Diakite, among others, back to redeem themselves from the embarrassment of the previous March. Yet again, the Cavaliers enjoyed a successful regular season, finishing 29-3 (16-2) with the ACC regular season crown locked up. They were awarded another No. 1 seed, and naturally, questions began to swirl about history repeating itself, or at least Virginia flaming out of the Big Dance yet again.
The team’s first game against No. 16 seed Gardner-Webb was scary to start, but Virginia eventually tightened its grip on the game and cruised to a 71-56 victory. The Cavs didn’t have tons of issues with No. 9 seed Oklahoma in the second round, dispatching the Sooners, 63-51. Starting in the Sweet 16, though, Virginia needed a combination of grit, talent, incredible coaching and luck to get by.
Head coach Tony Bennett and his Cavaliers would play in four-straight nail biters, narrowing escaping No. 12 seed Oregon, No. 3 seed Purdue, No. 5 seed Auburn and No. 3 seed Texas Tech, in order, requiring overtime to defeat Purdue and Texas Tech. Following an intensely dramatic 85-77 overtime triumph over the Red Raiders, Virginia had secured the program’s first-ever national championship in one of the greatest redemption arcs in the history of sports.