From Choke Artist to National Champions: The Redemption of the UVA Cavaliers
What a difference a year and some change makes in the world of sports? Especially for the University of Virginia Cavaliers, who avenged an unprecedented early exit from March Madness a season ago and secured the first NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship in program history with their thrilling 85-77 overtime win over the Red Raiders of Texas Tech last night in Minneapolis, MN at U.S. Bank Stadium. Last year they shocked the world in the worst way when they were the No.1 seed in the South regional bracket and were upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament by the 16th seeded Retrievers of UMBC in an embarrassing 54-74 defeat. The upset busted brackets across the nation and ended their season in disappointing fashion after finishing with the best overall record in the ACC at 31-3. There is a saying in sports that can be universally applied in all facets of life and it states “the days are long but the years are short”. The Cavaliers have had to live with that humiliating for over a year as all the doubters and even some UVA faithful doubted that they would be able to redeem themselves his year despite finishing with the best overall record in the ACC for the second straight season at 35-3. However, they would not let history repeat itself this time around as they ran the table in the NCAA Tournament from the first round to the Sweet 16, to the Elite Eight, to the Final Four all the way to the Championship game when they put together one of the most impressive defensive performances in the history of the title game. In the first round, they would not be upset by another 16th seed when they blew out the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs 71-56. The Cavs would follow that up with a double-digit 63-51 victory over the No.9 ranked Oklahoma Sooners in round two. They held on and came out victorious in a defensive slugfest in their Sweet 16 matchups with the 12th seeded Oregon Ducks and would advance past the Elite Eight after besting the Purdue Boiler Makers in an 80-75 overtime win. UVA would narrowly escape their final four showdowns with the fifth-seeded Auburn Tigers, but thanks to an untimely shooting foul committed by the Tigers in the waning seconds of the game and the clutch play of junior Kyle Guy at the charity stripe, they came away with a one-point triumph at 63-62. One of the most impressive aspects of their bounce back journey from first-round bracket busting choke artist to the eventual National champions was the way in which they achieved their goal. Unlike the odds-on favorites to win it all in Duke Blue Devils, who were the most popular team to watch in all of college basketball because they had the Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year in sensational freshman phenome Zion Williamson, they did not need divine intervention or the lucky roll of the ball out of the hoop or off the rim to advance past quality opponents. They became the 2019 National Champions by playing their best basketball in crunch time when it mattered most and taking their fate into their own hands. Anyone who has ever faced any kind of adversity in their lives or wish to redeem themselves after a major setback or even prove to themselves that they are capable of achieving greatness and achieving their goals can learn a lesson from the 2018-2019 UVA Cavaliers. Don’t allow the let downs of your past hinder you from attaining success in the future.