No. 16 UMBC shocked the college basketball world Friday night, with a resounding 74-54 victory over the No. 1 team in the country, Virginia.
The upset was the first of its kind in NCAA Tournament history, with the bottom seed in a region knocking off the top seed.
After the stunning loss, Virginia coach Tony Bennett spoke to the media:
On the loss: “First, hats off to Coach Odom and his staff and UMBC. They played a terrific game. They thoroughly outplayed us and they did a heck of a job. Very hard to guard offensively and they defended us well. I was concerned with the 4-guard offense heading into this, and we didn’t do the job. And I told these guys in the locker room, you know, a week ago we were cutting down the nets at ACC Tournament and how good that felt and they had a historic season, they really did. I said that to Tracy [Wolfson], CBS, after the game, in terms of ACC wins and ACC Conference Tournament Championship and then we had a historic loss being the first 1 seed to lose.
“So, that’s life. We talk about it all the time. The adulation, the praise, it comes and we got a lot of that this year. Then on the other side, they’ll be blame and people pointing that out. That can’t, in the end, you know, define these guys and our team or us, because it was a remarkable season but we got thoroughly outplayed. That’s the reality of it. And I hate for this team, the way they played to lose like this, but for Devon [Hall] and Isaiah [Wilkins] to go out like that and Nigel [Johnson] being a fifth year for us.
“So, with that, if you play this game and you step into the arena, this stuff can happen. And those who haven’t been in the arena or in the competition, maybe they don’t understand that. But there’s chances for wonderful things to happen, but when you’re in the arena, stuff like this can happen and all those who compete take that on. And so we’ll accept it. And again I want to congratulate the job that Ryan and his staff did. They played well and we did not.”
On defending the 4-guard lineup: “We’ve at times had a little trouble with 4-perimeter teams, 4-guard teams. And this is not an excuse, but without De’Andre [Hunter], I thought we had enough with what we had, but that allowed us to sometimes switch and he could — his versatility helped us. When we didn’t have that, we were always a little nervous. I think again their quickness — their size is small and we couldn’t — couple times we couldn’t take enough advantage of that. They did a great job blocking out, but again they put a lot of pressure on you with that and they run their offense. That’s why I wanted to give credit to Ryan. They run their offense so fast. That ball just pop, pop, pop and they do the dribble handoffs, keeping it and moving it. If you’re not really disciplined and really sound — and we worked as hard as we could preparing for it, but it’s like you can’t mimic that until you go against it.
“We lost our way. I think it was a good point, tried to get it back in one shot and got out of character. And I’m sure I’ll look at the tape and I probably made a lot of poor adjustments and that’s part of it. I’ll grow from it as a coach, but our young men tried. They battled. It wasn’t a lack of effort, but it was a hard team for us once they got ahead of us.”
On what this Virginia team will be remembered by: “I don’t know. Remarkable 31 wins. I think this team maxed out as much as any team that I’ve had. We were so healthy and so good up until this last game, so we needed all hands on deck. You’ll remember this. It will sting. Maybe a 1 seed will get beat again, maybe not. Maybe we’ll be the only No. 1 seed to ever lose. It’s life. It goes on. We’ll have to get past that. For some reason this is what we’ve got to deal with, and my job now will be to say hey, how do we bounce back, our players and all that. But a life lesson is sitting there about defining yourself by maybe not what the world says, but there’s other things that matter and then you get back to it.
“Phenomenal year. Can’t take away an ACC Championship, can’t take away the most wins, can’t take away an ACC Conference Tournament, and can’t take away so far being the first 1 seed to get beat and lose.
“I grew up, played at Wisconsin-Green Bay, the hyphenated schools. I know how good they are. Said it yesterday, good basketball knows no divisions or limits or qualities. And they played. All that matters is who plays the best. They earned their right to play in this tournament. They earned their right to move on. It’s who played the best for 40 minutes, and they absolutely did. Won’t take away from some of the things, but it certainly stings. You know, I’ll — ask me that maybe next year or another time. We’ll see.”
UMBC will move on to play Sunday against No. 9 Kansas State at 7:45 p.m.