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The Legendary Retrievers Of UMBC

March 19, 2018 - 11:39 am

And then there are the legendary Retrievers of UMBC. THE University of Maryland Baltimore County. Be honest, you had never heard of UMBC before Friday night, but you know about them now. Because they did what has never been done before in NCAA history.

Let’s get something out of the way first – yes, they lost last night and their tournament is over. And No, I don’t care. The crazy thing isn’t that they lost to Kansas State, the crazy thing is that they had that game and could’ve won it. The crazy thing is that UMBC is pissed that they aren’t going to the Sweet Sixteen.

Why? Because of what happened Friday night….

For years, I’ve been saying that a 16 would eventually beat a number one. It was bound to happen. It was only a matter of time. Eventually it had to happen. But if it happened, I thought it would be a 16 hitting a last second shot to close it out. And in the first half, it looked like there might be a chance of that.

UMBC was hanging with Virginia and it was tied at halftime. Of course, there have been 16s in the past who have been close with a number one for 20 minutes and maybe more, but they get cold from the field and remember that they’re a 16-seed and implode down the stretch. In other words, it was just a matter of time before UMBC remembered it was UMBC. But that’s not what happened.

This was most definitely not that. Because in the second half, UMBC didn’t fade. They stepped up. And then stomped on Virginia’s head. They went from being tied at 21 at halftime to scoring the first six points out of the locker room. And then stretching that into a double digit lead. And then absolutely poured it on. This was UMBC taking it to the number one seed Virginia. Not just the number one seed in the South Region, the number one seed in the entire freaking tournament. And they weren’t even remotely surprised.

Jairus Lyles going for 28. Point guard KJ Maura going absolutely legend at both ends of the floor. And Virginia having absolutely no answers. The Cavaliers are one of the best defensive teams in the country, really, one of the best defenses I’ve ever seen. And they were getting locked up by the Retrievers. Oh, and for the record, they are Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, not golden retrievers, so get your facts straight.

A team that lost to Albany by 44 in January beat the ACC champs by 20 in March. When people ask you why the NCAA tournament is the best event in sports, you can point to that.

And you can also point to Virginia head coach Tony Bennett and the incredible class he showed after the worst defeat of his career… one of the worst defeats of anyone’s career:

That’s the kind of thing that no coach wants to go through and he could not have handled it any better. An absolute masterclass in class.

And I’m not sure who dominated Friday night more, the UMBC Retrievers on the court or @umbcathletics on Twitter. Because Zach Seidel who runs the handle was just as fierce as Lyles and company.

When he wasn’t giving scoring updates or checking on the status of cookies in the media room, he was torching Seth Davis for declaring the game over as soon as it began. Or punking this dude who tweeted:

Apparently @umbcathletics calls themselves #retrievernation. And they have 5588 followers.

Umbcathletics response: ‘The dictionary defines: a large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory……5K is a large amount, dude’

That is a large amount, dude. But now that 5K is 110K and it is a really large amount, dude.

And then there was this clown who tweeted: @uvamenshoops What’s going on?!?!?! They having trouble with @umbcathletics Basketball

To which UMBC Athletics responded: We won 24 games and a conference title, it’s not like we are a YMCA team, dude

Threw one day on his head. With authority.

And then capped off the game with: PUT SOME RESPECK ON IT! WE HAVE DEFEATED NO.1 OVERALL SEED VIRGINIA 74-54

That’s how you win a game, that’s how you win the internet. And while they lost last night, and losing always sucks, they did something that nobody will ever forget.

The cheesiest thing ever would be to say that they didn’t win the game, but they won America’s hearts. But it’s true. And here’s another truth: Years from now, people won’t remember who went to the Sweet Sixteen. Or the Elite Eight. And they might not even remember who won the national title. But we’ll all remember UMBC and what they did. Legends. And I couldn’t wait to put some respect on that.