Well, here is one unlikely matchup. Virginia and Texas Tech clawed their way through college basketball’s biggest tournament for a pair of spots in the Final Four. Now each team is vying for its first national championship in program history. Southern fan bases have turned out in droves. Will Virginia finally earn bragging rights, or is Texas Tech the true Cinderella story this year?
Enrollment: About 25,000 in Charlottesville, Va.
Colors: Orange and blue
Mascot: Cavalier (think a Three Musketeers mounted swordsman with a rallying cry of “Wah-hoo-wah!”)
Backstory: Former President Thomas Jefferson formed the school in 1819 as the state’s flagship institution and a World Heritage site. The land was purchased by James Monroe, who, along with Jefferson and James Madison, served on the original governing board.
Alumni: Former U.S. AG Robert F. Kennedy; comedian Tina Fey; journalist Katie Couric; artist Georgia O’Keeffe; former President Woodrow Wilson; author William Faulkner; poet Edgar Allan Poe
Traditions: Sung to the familiar tune of “Auld Lang Syne,” UVa’s fight song prompts students to stand up and link arms. Cavaliers are known to belt the lyrics each time their football team scores, at the conclusion of the game and at other school functions. You’re bound to hear a lot of talk about Wahoos.
Enrollment: About 38,000 in Lubbock, Texas
Colors: Scarlet and black
Mascot: Red Raider (a mustachioed gunslinger)
Backstory: Established in 1923 to serve the western two-thirds of the state, Texas Tech grew to become the only campus in the region housing a major university, law and medical school. It also boasts one of the 10 best public art collections in the nation.
Alumni: Astronaut Rick Husband; musician John Denver; “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley; Dixie Chick Natalie Maines; WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes
Traditions: On game days, students toss tortillas into the air during kickoff. The practice was banned in 2001, but it hasn’t prevented fans from sneaking them in at football games. Though tortilla tossing is less common during the basketball season, don’t be surprised if they make an exception for the Big Dance.