The March Madness of 2018 was on display in historic fashion Friday night as the UMBC Retrievers took down the Virginia Cavaliers. With the shocking 74-54 victory, it was the first time that any No. 16 seed has defeated a No. 1 seed in the first round of tournament play. It also busted NCAA Tournament brackets everywhere while providing one of the biggest “Cinderella” teams to ever emerge early in the proceedings. Basically, David truly slew Goliath in the South region.
With the game tied at 21 at the half, it appeared that Virginia might come out of the locker room and overcome the slump. However, the Retrievers took the second half 53-33 against a Cavaliers team that only allowed opponents 53.4 points per game this season. According to ESPN in their box score, it was the senior guard Jairus Lyles leading the way for his team to pull off an improbable upset. Lyles shot 9-for-11 in the game including a 3-for-4 rate from long distance to finish with 28 points.
Lyles also dealt with leg cramps in the second half which had him leave the game for a bit to try to work them out. He’d return and make sure his team pulled off tonight’s unlikely win. Helping him in the effort were forward Joe Sherburne with 14 points and six rebounds, as well as center Arkel Lamar’s double-double of 12 points and 10 boards.
With just over four minutes remaining in the game, UMBC held onto a 12-point lead. However, a layup by Jarius Lyles extended the lead, followed by a huge three-pointer to push things to 17 points in favor of possibly the biggest David in the history of the tournament. With just over a minute left, a three-pointer from the underdogs gave them a 20-point lead and a roar from the fans supporting them. The Retrievers had been listed on the NCAA odds as 23-point underdogs ahead of tonight’s game, per Vegas Insider.
As Odds Shark also reported before tonight’s matchup, there had never been a No. 16 to take down a No. 1 seed before. In fact, most of the matchups between these two seeds were never close. However, Virginia was previously a 20-point favorite as a No. 1 seed against Coastal Carolina, who managed to stay within 12 points of them. In tonight’s game, the No. 1 team in the college polls at the close of the season was routed by a lesser-known school from Baltimore, Maryland that finished second overall in the America East conference.
Tonight’s win now sends the UMBC Retrievers into the second round of the tournament bracket where they’ll take on the No. 9 seed Kansas State. Most likely, they’ll be listed as the underdogs again. No matter who wins that game, a true Cinderella has already arrived at the ball and it’s certainly one for the ages. UMBC has earned itself a lot of new fans in 2018, except maybe for those bracket holders who had Virginia cutting down the nets.