Virginia needed a little luck to escape the Elite Eight with a buzzer beater against Purdue. It needed some more luck in the Final Four as it squeaked by Auburn thanks to three clutch free throws from Kyle Guy with less than one second left against Auburn.
BRACKET: Re-live this wild tournament
The 1-seed Cavaliers defeated the 5-seed Tigers, 63-62, to advance to their first-ever national championship game. Virginia was able to add Auburn to a list of teams it’s beaten this tournament that includes Gardner-Webb, Oklahoma, Oregon and Purdue. Auburn, which took down New Mexico State, Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky, now heads home.
The Cavaliers now have a chance to win a national title one year after they lost in historic fashion against a 16-seed. Before that matchup, here are three major takeaways from Virginia's Final Four win over Auburn.
Auburn entered the game as one of the most prolific 3-point shooting teams in the nation. Virginia came in as one of the teams most capable of curbing that success. And even though the Tigers hit a few when they needed them, they didn’t hit enough.
Before the Final Four, Virginia only allowed opponents to hit 28.7 percent of their 3s this season and the Cavaliers held Auburn to a 29-percent clip for the game with just 9 makes on 31 attempts. It’s a surprising outing from a Tigers squad that earlier this tournament hit 45.9 percent of their 3s and 17-of-37 attempts to knock out North Carolina. Although, during Auburn’s win in the Elite Eight it made just seven of its 23 attempted 3s.
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The Cavaliers showed off some efficiency of their own from deep, hitting two fewer 3s than the Tigers on 12 fewer shots.
These teams took care of the ball
Auburn and Virginia both did well avoiding turnovers as they fought for a chance to play for a national title.
The Tigers finished with just five turnovers, the Cavaliers eight. And off those 13 combined turnovers the two sides could only combine to score 12 points. Virginia only averaged nine turnovers per game this season and Auburn 11.8, but both owned positive turnover margins and benefited from the extra possessions those turned into for them.
PREDICTIONS: See who was picked to win the Final Four
In this aspect of the game, neither side was going to beat itself.
Ty Jerome could be on his way to becoming the Final Four’s most outstanding player
The junior guard out of New York nearly matched his season averages in just the first half of Virginia’s win. Jermone, who averaged 13.3 points, 5.3 assists and four rebounds per game before Saturday, tallied 13 points, four rebounds and three assists for the Cavaliers in the first 20 minutes.
Then he continued to be a force for Virginia.
Jerome finished the game with a game-high 21 points in addition to nine rebounds and six assists. It’s the fifth time this season he’s scored at least 20 points, and his nine boards tied a season high. There’s no easy way to replicate the success he had against Purdue in the Elite Eight and what he meant for Virginia that night, but he did it.
And that’s why Guy was in the position to win the game at the free-throw line at the end.