Rushed Reactions: #16 UMBC 74, #1 Virginia 54

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on March 17th, 2018

RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish. Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) is in Charlotte this weekend.

Three Key Takeaways.

UMBC’s jubilation was one for the ages after becoming the first #16-seed to knock off a #1-seed in NCAA history. (Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports)

  1. History has been made! Not only did UMBC pull off the biggest upset ever in the Big Dance, it did so handily. Virginia came in as the top overall seed in the tournament and the unanimous #1 team in both major polls, but the Cavaliers were totally outplayed. It’s not the first time Virginia has struggled in the first round as a #1 seed. Four years ago, the Cavaliers trailed Coastal Carolina by five at the half before coming back to win by 11. When the scored was tied at the half in this one, Virginia still seemed to be in good position. But UMBC stormed out of the locker room and immediately seized control of the game. It appeared that the Cavaliers got rattled, perhaps feeling the pressure of what was at stake. Even the vaunted pack line defense of Tony Bennett withered against the Retrievers’ attack, allowing uncontested layups and open threes. Regardless of why it happened, UMBC and Virginia will forever be remembered as the two participants when a #16 seed beat a #1 seed for the first time in NCAA Tournament history.
  2. UMBC was not overwhelmed by the moment. In the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in school history, UMBC didn’t flinch against the #1 team in the land. Calling on the same moxie they displayed in the America East conference tourney — they won the title on top-seeded Vermont’s home floor — the Retrievers battled the Cavaliers on even terms for most of the first half and then dominated the rest of the way. Much credit has to go to Ryan Odom for having his team believe it was possible and to the UMBC players for making it happen. To pull off the huge upset though, UMBC would need more than guts and confidence. They would also have to make a bunch of three-point shots and they did just that, sinking 12-of-24 from behind the arc.
  3. Is it possible that De’Andre Hunter meant more to Virginia than we thought? When it was announced that Hunter was going to miss the NCAA Tournament due to a broken wrist, it was a big loss for the Cavaliers. But we didn’t expect it to cause problems for Virginia so early in the tourney. Not to take anything away from UMBC, but the Cavaliers did not look the same without the ACC’s Sixth Man of the Year. It also didn’t help that Devon Hall had perhaps his worst outing of the season, scoring only two points on 1-of-9 shooting. Hunter’s absence probably also affected Virginia’s defense. Without their most athletic player available, the Cavaliers allowed the quicker Retrievers to penetrate the pack line repeatedly in the second half.

Player of the Game. Jairus Lyles, UMBC. The senior leader of the Retrievers came through with 28 points, including 23 after the half. Lyles was extremely efficient against the nation’s best defense — making 9-of-11 from the field and 3-of-4 from distance.

For the rest of history, the 2017-18 Virginia squad, who had one of the best regular seasons in ACC history, will be known as the first top seed to succumb to a #16 seeded team. (Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports)

Quotable.

  • “Obviously a historic game. Unbelievable.” – UMBC coach Ryan Odom’s opening comments in the press conference.
  • “We knew we could play with them. Being tied at halftime helped.” –  Jairus Lyles on UMBC’s confidence level.
  • “We want to be in the beginning of the One Shining Moment video.” – UMBC’s Joe Sherburne responding to a question about making history.
  • “We got thoroughly outplayed and that’s the reality of it.” – Virginia coach Tony Bennett summing up the game tonight.

Sights and Sounds. UMBC travelled well, and picked up some extra support in the Spectrum Center. As the Retrievers made their second half run, they were joined in the cheers by Kansas State and North Carolina fans still in the building. UMBC coach Ryan Odom has a connection to the Virginia program — his father Dave Odom was an assistant to Terry Holland at Virginia during the 1980s. The younger Odom spent about seven years — third grade to 10th grade — in Charlottesville.

What’s Next. UMBC tries to continue its magical run in the Second Round on Sunday where it will face #9 seed Kansas State. At stake will be a trip to the South Regional in Atlanta.

Brad Jenkins (325 Posts)


Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *