The NCAA Tournament is well, madness. No other major sport has anything that resembles March Madness. Upsets, buzzer beaters, and bad beats are what make these three weeks so special. Players come and go, teams win and lose, but once in awhile, a story comes around that is universally beloved and captivates the nation. This year, that title belongs to the UMBC Retrievers.
A 16 seed had never beaten a 1 seed going into Friday night. On the 136th edition of a 16 vs. a 1, finally, history was made. UMBC defeated Virginia 74-54, etching their name into March Madness immortality. UMBC did not just win the game, they blew the Cavs out of the gym. UMBC was 54% from the field and 50% from 3 while Virginia shot 41% from the field and an abysmal 18% from 3. That is a recipe for an upset. It’s weird that in a year where experts talked about how Penn could be the 16 seed to finally be a 1, the 16 seed to get the least attention ended up shocking the world.
As the game went on, UMBC continued to make shot after shot while Virginia continued to struggle and lose their identity of tough defense and efficient offense. UMBC was up 16 with over 8 minutes left and I still questioned if this was possible. “Virginia has to make a run, right? There’s no way UMBC wins this game.” Wrong.
While the game was going on, the UMBC Athletics Twitter Account decided to upstage the play on the court with witty remark after witty remark.
UMBC’s cinderella run ended in a 50-43 loss to Kansas State, but in the grand scheme of things, no one will remember that loss. Teams win and lose all the time in this tournament, but it’s rare to get remembered. I bet that if you were to ask the common basketball fan who was in the Final Four last year, I bet more than 50% of people could not answer that. I’ll go one step further and say 50% of people could not name who was in the title game last year.
However, people will remember UMBC and their magical upset. Their win will become a “where were you when it happened” type of moment. UMBC won the hearts of the American public and for that, we thank you.
Author’s Note: I’m fully aware that if Loyola Chicago wins the championship, they will be the team that everyone remembers. I’ll keep that article in a draft for now.