In this year’s NCAA Championship game, there are tremendous players on both sides. The No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers are looking for the ultimate redemption after losing to a No. 16 seed last year, while No. 3 Texas Tech has gone further than many experts predicted. Both teams are looking for their first NCAA Title in history.
Many aspects go into winning a championship. Coaching, execution, and preparation are just a few of the essential things needed to accomplish this difficult task. However, it ultimately all comes down to the play on the court. No matter how much they practice or what plays the coaches call, it all has to be executed by the players.
These are the players we think are the most important in the big game.
5. Kyle Guy
Kyle Guy should be known for much more than his recent wedding registry issues with the NCAA. He’s a terrific player who has helped Virginia get to where they are. Guy is known to run around screens and tire out his defenders, using it to get free for 116 three-pointers this season. As the leading scorer of a No. 1 seeded team, Guy’s shot needs to be falling for Virginia to have their best shot at winning it all.
4. Matt Mooney
Key players step up in the most significant situations. In their Final Four win over Michigan State, it was Matt Mooney who led Texas Tech in scoring. He’s the first player not named Jarrett Culver to do that for the Red Raiders in this tournament. Defenses are going to keep no Culver, so that will open up Mooney. If he can be nearly as good again, Texas Tech will be in a great position. Even if he doesn’t score, Mooney is one of the smartest lockdown defenders in the nation.
3. De’Andre Hunter
Last year, De’Andre Hunter broke his wrist ahead of the NCAA Tournament. That played a significant part in Virginia getting upset by UMBC. He’s back this year and has been an integral piece of his team’s success so far. He’s a two-way player who can kind of do it all. Scoring inside, hitting the jumper, using his length on defense. You name it, Hunter can do it. His versatility makes him a threat. There’s a reason he’s a projected lottery pick this June.
2. Ty Jerome
He may not be projected to go as high as De’Andre Hunter, but make no mistake. Ty Jerome is a stud. The junior has a lethal jumper and is a vital playmaker. His biggest asset might be his brain. What he lacks in athleticism he makes up for in smarts. Jerome is arguably the anchor for a defense that was among the best in all of college basketball. Whatever he does in this game will drive Virginia for better or for worse.
1. Jarrett Culver
Another projected lottery pick this coming NBA Draft. Jarrett Culver carries the Red Raider offense with his versatile style. He can facilitate and isolate, before going on the defensive end and also playing a major role. Culver didn’t have the best Final Four performance, but he came through with some clutch baskets down the stretch to seal their trip to the championship. Buckets like that are extra vital in a game featuring two of the best defensive teams in the nation.