UMBC Retrievers: The Biggest Upset in Men’s College Basketball History

It happened. It finally happened. The 16 seed UMBC Retrievers made NCAA Tournament history after absolutely manhandling the No. 1 overall seed Virginia Cavaliers. Making it the first time a 16 seed defeated a top seed in the history of men’s college basketball. Just writing that feels weird. Being able to actually witness it happen, indescribable. 

At my buddies place, we were watching the 1st round matchups all throughout the night and we actually had some interesting conversations leading up to the UMBC-UVA game. For example: We brought up the question of what it must feel like to be a 16 seed leading up to having to face a one seed and how degrading it has to feel to know the previous 135 teams before you failed. Also mentioning, if a 16 seed were ever to win against a one seed it would definitely be against Virginia. I know it may be hard to believe but, we legitimately did. The thing is, we were certainly not expecting it to actually happen by any means. I mean come on, UVA won’t actually lose to UMBC. The Retrievers? What does UMBC even stand for anyways? Psh. Whatever, it won’t even be close. Then the game actually happened. 

The 1st half was…bad. Seemingly no offense from either side for 20 minutes. Both the Cavaliers looked lost on the offensive side of the ball. Something you’d expect from a 16 seed facing the top overall team in the tournament but, from the apparent top overall seed? UVA looked far from the top team. At halftime, the score was tied 21-21. With that said, my friend and I were completely absorbed in the Sh*t show. After all, a 16 seed was tied with the No. 1 team.

Then came the 2nd half. Having expected UVA to make adjustments at the half, I somewhat expected the Cavaliers to eventually pull away like all top seeds usually do. Nope. That didn’t happen at all. In fact, UMBC came out firing and quickly gained a 10 point lead. It was at this moment, my friend and I started to come to the realization that this could actually happen. No matter the defense UVA put on them, UMBC carved through it like butter. It was a thing of beauty really. Things really started heating up when Retriever senior guard, Jairus Lyles got hot and when I say hot I mean scorching. The man simply couldn’t miss. Driving to the hoop, mid-range jumpers, three pointers and so on. It didn’t matter. Lyles put up 28 on 9 of 11 shooting. Virginia couldn’t find an answer for him. They also couldn’t find an answer on offense. Other than being bailed out by foul calls and free throws, I honestly can’t recall a single possession where they looked like they knew what they were doing. It didn’t take long for this game to get out of hand. With zero exaggeration, UMBC made Virginia look like the 16 seed and the Retrievers the top seed. Then the final buzzer rang and it was official. #16 UMBC Retrievers: 74 – #1 Virginia Cavaliers: 54. A twenty point beat down on the top overall seed. UMBC put up 53 2nd half point’s. One point short of what UVA’s final point total. 

Overall, Virginia was never even close. UMBC outplayed the Cavaliers in every aspect of the game. They simply wanted it more and certainly earned it. I’m so thankful that I was able to witness something that could very well never happen again in my lifetime. As I’m writing this now, I still haven’t quite wrapped my mind around it. I’d like to congratulate the UMBC Retrievers, their family, friends and fan base for the unreal accomplishment, defying the odds, and solidifying their place in the history books. Let the madness continue. 

– Collin Borron (Founder & Owner of The Gridiron Express)

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