Going into the 2018 NCAA Tournament, no men’s No. 16 seed had ever advanced to the second round in the history of the tournament.
That changed on Friday, March 16, when The Univiersity of Maryland, Baltimore County defeated the overall No. 1 seed, the Virginia Cavaliers.
Not only did UMBC make history with the victory, but they did it in a very impressive fashion – a 20-point blowout against a team that lost two games all season.
UMBC, nicknamed the Retrievers, went from a team that barely made the field to the biggest Cinderella team in history in the matter of a week.
UMBC just barely squeaked out a win against Vermont in the America East Conference Championship, needing a last-second three, to even earn their spot in the field of 68.
This too was a massive upset. Vermont went into its conference final as a double digit favorite over UMBC.
On Friday, UMBC went into their first round game against Virginia as 20-point underdogs. Not only did the Retrievers get tasked with playing the highest-ranked team in the country, but they also had to play the Cavaliers in what seemed like a home game, just over 4 hours from the Virginia campus.
Even facing all this adversity, UMBC went into Charlotte not only looking to compete, but looking to win. Joe Sherburne, a junior on the Retrievers said, “I mean, we’re not saying we don’t have a chance. We’re going there playing to win.”
Sherburne also said that the Retrievers had nothing to loose. They could go out and play loose with no pressure.
This attitude played a key role in the Retrievers massive upset. UMBC came out playing hard and with no fear, and eventually beat the Cavaliers by 20.
This win for the Retrievers was huge for the program. It gave the school as well as head coach, Ryan Odom, a ton of exposure. With all this publicity UMBC are much more prone to get bigger name recruits from now on.
Getting bigger-name recruits will help the program grow and become a well-known school that is a threat to make the tournament every year and become an America East powerhouse.
This massive upset was also very good for the NCAA.
Now that everyone knows that a 16 seed can beat a 1 seed, these games will be taken more seriously.
It is no longer a forgone conclusion that the one seeds will automatically advance to the second round.
Over the next few years, you will see many more close games in this matchup, possibly even another upset and much more viewers tuned into the games.
The Retrievers have given hope to every program in the country that they can go into the tournament and beat any team on any given night.
UMBC went on to face Kansas State in the second round of the tournament on Sunday, March 18, and came up just short of yet another upset, losing 50-43.
Sure, the Cinderella run of the Retrievers is over, but UMBC will go down in history as the first No. 16 seed to ever beat a No. 1 seed in the tournament. It will also be remembered for a very long time for pulling the biggest upset the NCAA tournament has ever seen and opening the door to what many, including Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton, are calling a “revolution” in college basketball.