It happened. It finally happened. On the 136rd try since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, a No. 16 seed defeated a No. 1 as UMBC shocked Virginia, 74-54. The Retrievers outscored the Cavaliers 53-33 in the second half to do the once-unthinkable and will go down in as history as the smallest David to slay a Goliath of such imposing stature.
Jairius Lyles scored 28 points on 9-of-11 shooting (23 in the second half), Joe Sherburne added 14 and spark plug K.J Maura chipped in 10.
UMBC began the second half on a 24-8 run to extend its lead to 16 and held off a desperate Virginia team fighting to stay out of the record books. The Cavaliers would get no closer than 12 points at the 5:40 mark.
Virginia was not just any 1-seed but the No. 1 overall team in the entire tournament, a team that suffered only two losses all season. They were 20.5-point favorites.
UMBC’s upset played out in real time not as a fluke but the logical result as one team clearly outplayed the other.
Holy cow. We all saw it happen, but it still doesn’t feel real.