The 16th seeded University of Maryland Baltimore County did the unthinkable and beat the number one seeded Virginia on March 16, 2018 in one of, if not the greatest sports upsets of all time.
This was impressive as before this game, this had never happened since the tournament expanded in 1985, and the University of Maryland Baltimore County is a small school with only about 13,000 enrolled students. Before this, the odds of 16 seeds against number one teams were 0-135.
Sophomore Mason Shipp says, “I was really surprised. I remember it was tied at halftime, and when I looked again, UMBC was up by like 20. I was in complete shock.”
There are many different factors that led to the demise of Virginia in the tournament.
Jairus Lyles, the star that night for UMBC, scored 28 points, making nine of the 11 shots he attempted.
Another huge reason for the win was the three-pointers.
Threes are a huge part of basketball now thanks to new NBA stars like Steph Curry who have shown how effective the shot is. Now, if players make a better percentage of their threes than the other team, then they have a good chance of winning.
UMBC did just that during the game. They made 50 percent of all the three-pointers they took, while Virginia only hit 18 percent. Virginia shot 22 threes and only made four. That huge discrepancy was definitely a key reason for the upset.
Finally, UMBC played better team basketball. They made better passes, better plays, and that ultimately helped them. They had 16 assists while Virginia only had five.
This upset will be remembered for generations because not only was it not just a one seed versus a 16 seed, it was the best team in the tournament, the overall number one team in the tournament versus what was considered to be the worst.
Just a few months earlier, UMBC had lost to Albany, who was not even in the tournament, 83-39. To go from that blowout to beating a 31-2 team by 20 is remarkable.
Sophomore Sriram Banda says, “Before this tournament, I didn’t even know who they were. I thought Virginia was gonna win by 20, not UMBC.”
Another impressive fact about the win was that it was not even close. UMBC did not get a close victory, win off a buzzer-beater, or last second shot. They won by 20 points, 74-54.
Not only did they win by 20, but they were the first team throughout the whole NCAA season to score 70 or more points on Virginia. That includes the countless teams Virginia faced that are more talented than UMBC.
While they did lose in the next round to Kansas State, this men’s basketball team will be remembered for generations because of their historic legacy to college basketball. With all the obstacles and non-believers in their way, they overcame the odds and beat Virginia.
Do you think this was a fluke, or was UMBC really the better team?