UMB-lievable! 16-seed Retrievers make history, knock off 1-seed Virginia

NCAA Tournament Nevada beats Texas in overtime
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18 March, 2018

After 136 tries, a No. 16 seed has finally defeated a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

On the one hand, Kansas State doesn't have to play the No. 1 team in the country, the Virginia Cavaliers.

Lyles broke out with a almost flawless second half against Virginia, where he scored 23 of his 28 points and looked the part of a player who should've been playing for a 1, not a 16.

"It should make you forgive and forget", Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "It's always exciting to make history", he said.

If I were a betting man (and I am), I would bet this is going to be the most common sports conversation all of us have for the rest of our lives. "And to look back and see my teammates going insane, too, man it's unbelievable". But what rarely gets mentioned is how closely the Wildcats played the Hoyas that season. However, two stats do stand out, and tell the story of both UMBC's road to the NCAA Tournament, as well as its historic win.

In 2014, Virginia truly began garnering national respect, claiming the No. 1 seed in the East Region and touching off chatter of the school's first Final Four appearance since 1984 being a real possibility.

UMBC Athletics Director Tim Hall was complimentary of Odom after Odom won the first-year-coach award. "That's a heck of a team and we knew that going into it".

Its powerhouse program gives scholarships to players from around the world and competed in the President's Cup, informally known as the Final Four of chess, for 15 straight years before the streak ended in 2016.

Isaiah Wilkins and his Cavaliers teammates sat heartbroken with tears in their eyes. "They made shots", Cavaliers guard Ty Jerome said.

"Thanks for bringing that up again, but I was aware of it", he said. The Retrievers did so in convincing fashion, 74-54 in Charlotte, North Carolina in a first-round tournament game.

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UMBC outscored Virginia 53-33 in the second half.

In the postgame press conference, head coach Tony Bennett kept it straight forward when asked how he views his team's season. He diced up Virginia's defense in the second half, getting the hole easily on six different occasions and making easy layups.

"I am sure I will be able to sit back and ... If you play this game and you step in the arena, this stuff can happen".

UMBC's Jairus Lyles (10) drives past Virginia's Isaiah Wilkins (21) and Kyle Guy (5) during the second half of a first-round game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, March 16, 2018. The forward who was the second leading scorer Friday, Joe Sherburne, has never gotten a B in college.

And when Arkel Lamer made a 3-pointer from the corner with 3 1/2 minutes left to put UMBC up by 17 and backpedaled down the court with his tongue hanging out, you knew history was inevitable.

"They paved the way", Gerrity said.

But still, nobody ever confused either of them for a No. 16 seed.

"They had a historic season". "They were hard for us to guard and they played us well defensively". And it may seem too easy an explanation, but for a top-seeded team facing a No. 16, that's something that isn't supposed to happen - and never has before tonight.

Moreover, they now inherit the relatively cushy path through the remaining early rounds of the tournament that had been intended for Virginia: they face ninth-seeded Kansas State tomorrow, and would play the victor of the game between fifth-seeded Kentucky and 13th-seeded Buffalo after that if they advance.


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