MINNEAPOLIS — Virginia, a fine tortoise of an app using a warmish 114-year history, a bent for deliberative basketball along with also an unthinkable splat of 13 weeks ago, spent Monday night scaling the last jagged rungs to a pinnacle. When eventually it made the final, agonizing measures in overtime, reached the top and looked around, it knew a feeling long associated only with others such as Duke or North Carolina, the neighboring hares that constantly left it among the overshadowed.
It was the first first-time men’s college basketball national winner in 13 decades, and could see back across the landscape of one hell of a story. It could see Texas Tech, the finalist Virginia outlasted by 85-77 in that overtime, a team so great it had hit on the NCAA tournament like some fantastic wind coming from the large plains of Lubbock, felling Michigan State, Gonzaga, Michigan and Buffalo.
Gaze back from up high, and Virginia could see the carnival of plays which helped it twist out of doom in life-shortening matches from Purdue, Auburn and Texas Tech. Squint harder, and it could see back to March 2018, when Virginia became the first No. 1 seed in tournament history to lose to a No. 16 seed, a bewildering 74-54 thud from Maryland Baltimore County, the nadir of a five decades of tortured Marches. Yet right in front, it might observe the droves in orange and blue in U.S. Bank Stadium, reveling as sound cascaded from lovers who rarely dared dream of anything.