The University of Maryland-Baltimore County (“UMBC”) squeaked into the NCAA tournament by beating Vermont on last second shot in the America East conference tournament. What was UMBC’s reward for besting Vermont? They got the privilege of facing Virginia – winner of the ACC regular season and post-season tournament and number one seed in the big dance. That didn’t matter. UMBC gashed the Cavaliers:
The NCAA men’s basketball tournament has included 64 teams every year since 1985, split into four quadrants and seeded 1-16. In all those years — in 135 tries — no 16 seed had ever beaten a top-seeded team.
Until the University of Maryland-Baltimore County beat the stuffing out of Virginia, the best team in the country, 74-54 on Friday night. All of which is to say, if anyone claims they picked against Virginia in their tournament pool, you should feel comfortable not believing them.
The Retrievers — who made half their three-point shots against easily the best defensive team in the country — were led by 28 points from senior guard Jairus Lyles, and also presumably every four-leaf clover along the shoulders of I-95.
UMBC outscored Virginia 53-33 in the second half, and out-rebounded the Cavaliers as well. Virginia allowed an average of 53 points all season, and UMBC scored 53 points in the second half. Shooting guard Jarius Lyles put on a show; he was quick and shifty and everything he threw up seemed to go in. Forward Joe Sherburne was also a problem, hitting some big 3-pointers that created match up problems and forced UVA to spread themselves on defense.
The Retrievers were quicker in key positions, yet Virginia’s size advantage was a non-factor. Virginia did not exploit its size on the offensive end and they the Cavaliers got out-rebounded by the smaller UMBC team. This is how a 16th seed beats a number one see. UMBC moves on the play Kansas State next.