The Virginia Cavaliers are seeking their first-ever NCAA men’s tournament title on Monday, April 8. Head coach Tony Bennett will be putting his team full of defensive stalwarts and talented sharpshooters against an equally-skilled defensive and shooting team from Texas Tech University.
Virginia’s roster includes five upperclassmen among the 14 players. There are four true freshmen and one redshirt freshman as well. Five members of the roster are from outside the United States. The positional breakdown includes eight frontcourt and six backcourt players.
Here’s the Cavaliers’ full roster listed by jersey number:
Virginia is mostly going with the same starting five that has carried them to this point in the tournament on Monday night against Texas Tech. The starters for both teams in the men’s championship are:
Guy has been the guy for Virginia, averaging 12.4 points and 1.8 assists per game while recording a double-double (25 points, 10 rebounds) against Purdue in the Elite Eight on March 30. Jerome has scored in double figures in each tournament game so far, dropping a combined 45 points on Purdue and Auburn in the Final Four on April 6. Jerome fell just a rebound short of posting a double-double against Auburn.
Hunter comes into Monday night also having scored in double figures in every tournament game so far, with a high of 23 points in the opening-round game against Gardner-Webb on March 22. He shot almost 64 percent from the field against Auburn. Clark enters Monday night averaging seven points, four assists and a steal per game to this point in the tournament.
Diakite fell one rebound short of posting a double-double against Oklahoma in the Round of 32 on March 24, then three points short of doing the same against Oregon in the Sweet 16 on March 28. His scoring has been streaky, as he has recorded double figures in three of the five tournament games but only nine combined points in the other two contests. If Diakite can score in double figures on Monday, it will mean that he has had great success in penetrating a defense that prides itself on clogging the interior.
Over the course of the past five games, the Cavaliers have averaged shooting 45.3 percent from the field and allowed 58.6 points per game. Virginia has recorded 65 assists so far in the tournament, as compared to just 42 turnovers.
Bench players who have seen significant minutes so far in the 2019 tournament include Huff, Key and Salt. Salt actually started in place of Diakite in the Cavaliers’ opening-round tournament game against Gardner-Webb, but he only played five minutes in that contest. He has averaged 9.6 minutes per game in the four games since. Key has consistently seen the most action, averaging 10.2 minutes per game.
With the constant defensive pressure that Texas Tech applies, especially to the interior of the offensive end, expect Virginia to utilize its bench heavily.
Monday night’s championship game against the Red Raiders could very well be a low-scoring and tight contest that will come down to which team can best execute its half-court sets against the opposition’s stingy defense. The Cavaliers will need all the players in their regular rotation to overcome Texas Tech.