UMBC has made history. A No. 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament — until now.
UMBC stunned Virginia, 74-54, on Friday night in opening round play in the South region. No. 16 seeds were 0-135 all-time against No. 1 seeds coming into the game.
UMBC was considered the worst team in the NCAA tournament field by far by the time the game tipped. The Retrievers were ranking No. 188 out of 351 DI teams on KenPom. The next worst team is Marshall at No. 100.
The Retrievers hit a buzzer-beater to beat favored Vermont in the America East title game just to get here. So how did they beat Virginia, a team that entered 31-2 overall and had won 20-of-21 games in the ACC?
UMBC caught fire from three-point range
If a No. 16 seed was ever going to beat a No. 1, it stood to reason they would have to get hot and stay hot from three-point range. That’s exactly what UMBC did against Virginia.
The Retrievers went 12-of-24 on threes vs. UVA. Conversely, Virginia only hit 4-of-22 shots from deep.
Guards Joe Sherburne and Jairus Lyles each hit three triples for UMBC, while teammate K.J. Maura added two three-pointers.
Relying on the long ball has been UMBC’s M.O. all season. The Retrievers took threes on 44.7 percent of their possessions during the season and made 38.2 percent of them. Both marks were top-50 in the country.
Jairus Lyles consistently beat Virginia to the basket
Lyles was electric all night, finishing with 28 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field. He was so exhausted that he was cramping throughout the second half and had to be pulled as UMBC was building its lead.
Lyles was able to beat Virginia’s No. 1 overall defense off the dribble and finish at the rim time and again. Virginia’s defense thrives on preventing dribble penetration, but Lyles was able to beat them consistently:
Lyles headed into halftime with only five points. That means he scored 23 points in the second half. He’s the MVP of this game, no doubt.
UMBC got the pace in its favor, locked up Virginia’s offense and beat them on the glass
Virginia isn’t a bad offensive team, necessarily. Just a slow one. The ‘Hoos offense ranked No. 23 in efficiency coming into the game.
UMBC locked them up hard. Virginia shot 20-of-52 from the field. UVA ranks dead last in the nation in pace — No. 351 overall — and UMBC did well to get the game moving up and down.
The Retrievers even out-rebounded Virginia, 32-24. UVA missed injured forward DeAndre Hunter to be sure, but this type of domination was beyond the scope of any one player.
Virginia had not allowed 70 points in a game all season. They lost two games by a combined eight points before losing to a No. 16 seed by 20.
This is the biggest upset in NCAA tournament history. A No. 16 over a No. 1 — it finally happened.