The last time the Virginia Cavilers were in the Final Four, Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Chris Beard had just turned 11 years old.
Back in 1984, Texas Tech was still a part of the Southwest Conference, and were in the back-half of the 20-year run of head coach Gerald Myers. 1984 was also the last year of the third-place game (which Virginia won), and was the last tournament before the expansion to 65 teams (53 teams competed in the 1984 version of March Madness).
Texas Tech had never reached the Final Four before this year, and before last season’s Elite Eight run, their highest finish had been the Sweet Sixteen — accomplished five times before the last two seasons.
But Virginia and Texas Tech do have one thing in common: neither have ever had the opportunity to play in the national title game. Whoever wins tonight will have their program’s first-ever national title in NCAA D1 men’s basketball.
A win by Texas Tech is a good thing for the Big 12 conference. For 66 years, the Big 6/7/8/12 conference has been led by the Kansas Jayhawks. Sure, the Kansas State Wildcats and Oklahoma Sooners have played in national title games during that span, but the last time this conference* won a title that wasn’t held by those birds in Lawrence, it was the Sooners holding the crown in 1946. (*Yes, Texas won a title in 1966, but they were independent that year).
Plus, a win by Texas Tech adds some glory to K-State’s shared conference title. The Wildcats played even with e Red Raiders for 18 games, including splitting the home-and-home series. While it would have been great to see the Wildcats in the place of the Red Raiders, it’s at least the next-best thing. And still a heap load better than the boys in blue down the river.
Tonight’s National Title game tips at 8:20pm CDT from U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The game will air on CBS with Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, and Tracy Wolfson on the call, and coverage will begin at 8pm CDT. You can also stream the game live via the NCAA’s online March Madness Live portal or via the March Madness app.