DID THAT JUST HAPPEN!! Yes, yes it did. You are not dreaming, a 16 seed has finally taken down a one seed for the first time in NCAA tournament history. UMBC has absolutely shocked the nation, busted millions of brackets worldwide and have made history. This was no fluke however, as the Retrievers of Baltimore county absolutely dominated the Cavaliers of Virginia for 40 minute and frankly, ran them out of the gym. They hit more shots, made more plays on defense and made the top seed in the entire tournament look like a JV team from Tuscon. To pull off an upset of this magnitude, you must have two things. One, you need to have a whole bunch of heart and the motive of “I want this more than you” and two, a star-studded performance from your best players. UMBC executed this recipe to complete perfection. The star studded performance for the retrievers was led by Junior guard, Jairus Lyles, whose name if you did not know a few weeks ago, you most certainly know now. Lyles started putting his name on a national platform just a week ago when he hit a game winning three at Vermont to send his team to the NCAA Tournament.
I was instantly a fan of this young man as soon as the ball went through the basket. His swagger, confidence and domineer was something to admire and I knew in some way, he would make an impact in this tournament. That would become an understatement as Lyles absolutely took over the show, scoring 28 points and 4 boards in a winning effort, Friday night. Lyles was confident throughout the night and it was clear at an early point in the game that he was the best player on the court and that continued to be the case during the duration of the game.
Lyles did not have to do it all by himself however. Point guard, K.J. Maura became a pest the entire night for the Virginia offense. The senior from San Juan showed off his quickness and defensive skills to a tee, and I can only describe his work of play as a mosquito, who continues to bite at all costs.
Now let’s break down just how historic of a moment this was. What we just witnessed has never happened in the history of college basketball. Before Friday night, 16 seeds in the NCAA tournament had gone 0-135 against 1 seeds in the dance and it seemed like the feat of winning, was practically impossible. There was just way to big of a gap between the power house of a one seed to the small mid major of a 16 seed. Well those doubters (seemingly every one in America) have happily been proved wrong. We may never see this again. Like to be honest, I cannot fully fathom what I have just witnessed, like did a 16 seed actually just beat the number one overall seed in the tournament. Yes, Peter, yes. This is what makes sports so special and this is what makes March Madness such a special event. We love rooting for the underdog, it makes us feel good, as they are in some way, more relatable to us than the heavily favored powerhouse. A night that started with me eating Chinese food with my girlfriend, friends and family, has ended with a HiSTORIC upset and a night that I will truly never forget, GO DAWGS!