Texas Tech and Virginia will meet tonight in Minneapolis for the National Championship game. Neither team was a popular pick to face off in the finals, but here we are.
Both teams are very similar. They’re veteran-led teams who score the ball efficiently and suffocate their opponents on defense. The most important factor for both of these teams is their defense.
Both head coaches have mastered the no middle defense. This system is predicated on allowing no penetration to the middle of your defense. Essentially, you force your man to the outside and when the man with the ball tries to drive, an athletic big man will come over from help defense. Another key to this defense is switching most screens or pinching (double-teaming) the ball handler.
This defense can be highly effective. although it does rely on leaving shooters open on the perimeter. If you are able to knock down your open jumpers you can make both of these teams pick up the tempo of the game and screw up their offense.
Last season, UMBC laid out the perfect blueprint to beat Virginia. Set a high pick and roll, then have the screener pop to the three-point line. The screener will have an open three-point attempt, or the ball handler will have a one-on-one opportunity with a big man.
This was still Virginia’s Achilles heel this season. Luckily for them, Purdue and Auburn weren’t able to hit enough three-pointers to pull off the upset.
Texas Tech runs the same defense, but doesn’t run into this same problem. The Red Raiders play too many athletes on the floor who can switch onto any man. Their entire rotation is over 6’4″ and can guard basically any position.
This will be Virginia’s downfall.
I think Texas Tech shoots the ball well enough to win this game. Also, Jarrett Culver hasn’t been playing as well lately, but he’s due for a big game. I don’t expect a lot of scoring but I do think they’ll combine to hit the over of 118.