No. 16 UMBC (25-10) became the first bottom seed to defeat a top seed when it beat No. 1 Virginia (31-3) 74-54 on Friday night to advance to the second round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
The Retrievers will face No. 9 Kansas State (23-11) in Charlotte, N.C., on Sunday.
How it happened
UMBC’s active defense and lights-out shooting had Virginia on the ropes early. Every time Virginia battled to a narrow lead, the Retrievers knocked down a difficult shot to keep it close.
A clearly frustrated Virginia team rolled into halftime tied at 21.
In the second half, UMBC opened up a 16-point lead with a 24-8 spurt. Virginia’s offense never seemed comfortable, as the Cavaliers settled for jump shots and UMBC switched on almost everything to stay with ball handlers.
UMBC’s Jairus Lyles battled cramps for the good part of the second half, exiting to get treatment while his team battled to maintain its lead. After extending the lead to 50-34, the Retrievers’ lead slowly started to trickle away.
With less than 5 minutes remaining, Virginia pushed forward with a blitzing press, trapping at the corners. But it was UMBC battling past the Cavaliers and finding open teammates to advance the ball.
The resilient Retrievers refused to settle for open shots as the clock wound down, instead opting to bleed clock and head to the free-throw line as Virginia desperately fouled.
What we learned
- Virginia had no idea how to handle UMBC’s pressure, settling for awful outside shots and refusing to attack the rim with the aggression needed.
- UMBC played one of the most complete games against a top seed in the history of the NCAA Tournament, shooting lights out and playing suffocating defense.
- Never count out a No. 16 seed.
- Jairus Lyles led UMBC with 28 points.
- UMBC shot 54 percent from the field.
- UMBC connected on 12 of 24 3-pointers, good for 50 percent.
- Virginia was held to 41 percent shooting from the field.
- Virginia couldn’t connect on anything from range, making 18 percent of its 3-pointers.
No. 16 UMBC moves on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, where it will play No. 9 Kansas State on Sunday in Charlotte.
In NCAA Tournament history, no 16th seed had beaten a No. 1 seed coming into Friday night.
Georgetown narrowly avoided an upset against Princeton (1989, 50-49), Oklahoma managed to slip by East Tennessee State (1989, 72-71), Michigan State defeated Murray State (1990, 75-71) and, most recently, Purdue beat Western Carolina (1996, 73-71) to keep the top seeds unbeaten.
Virginia came into the tournament a heavy favorite, topping some analysts’ Final Four brackets as a possible national champion.
Virginia had statement wins over No. 12 North Carolina, No. 18 Clemson, No. 4 Duke and three consecutive wins in the ACC Tournament to take the conference crown.
The Cavaliers’ only two losses came on Feb. 10 against Virginia Tech (61-60 in overtime) and Dec. 5 at No. 18 West Virginia (68-61).
Virginia had never advanced past the regional final in its tournament history.
Since its program’s inception in 1986-87, this is just UMBC’s second appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Retrievers’ only other appearance came in 2007-08, which resulted in a first-round exit. UMBC, which stands for University of Maryland, Baltimore County, entered the tournament as the America East Conference champion.
ESPN’s matchup predictor gave Virginia a 98.5 percent chance of moving on from upset-minded UMBC.