Before Friday night, the college basketball world had never seen a No. 16 seed take down a No. 1 seed giant. That changed when the University of Maryland-Baltimore County Retrievers (25-10) did not just slay the giant, they decimated the top overall seed Virginia Cavaliers (31-3) by a score of 74-54.
With the teams locked up at 21 at halftime, the Retrievers put themselves in the position for the upset. After the second half, however, the Cavaliers came out looking like the sixteen-seed that had hoped to play the Cinderella. UMBC outscored Virginia 53-33 in the final twenty minutes and bested the Cavaliers in nearly every major statistical category. The most lop-sided stat was three-point percentage. The Retrievers shot 50 percent and made 12 threes while the Cavaliers managed a measly 18.2 percent and made four.
The Media Impact
The upset was so momentous for the sixteen-seed that the sudden influx of virtual traffic on the team’s website caused it to crash. The university’s athletics Twitter account also exploded in popularity. The team’s followers ballooned from a modest 5,000 to an immense 107,000 in less than a week. That number is not even as large as it was before UMBC’s loss to Kansas State. It is still over 100,000 more followers than the team originally had, though.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 20, 2018
Despite falling to the Kansas State Wildcats 50-43 on Sunday night, UMBC has left an indelible mark on the NCAA Tournament landscape. Having overcome the top-seeded University of Vermont in the American East Tournament Championship and first-seed Virginia in back-to-back games, the Retrievers were not just your average underdog. Snagging the special digital cover of Sports Illustrated was also a sweet accomplishment for the once underappreciated Retrievers.
Following their loss to Kansas State, UMBC Head Coach Ryan Odom looked back on his team’s tournament run and praised the team’s growth.