Welcome to our Decade of Basketball series, reminiscing about the greatest moments in the sport in the 2010s. Through video, we will relive the times from the last 10 years that bring goosebumps to the arms of those who witnessed them. Let’s celebrate the last decade of basketball and look forward to the next one we’re about to experience.
No. 16 UMBC Upsets Virginia
Prior to 2018, No. 1 seeds were 135-0 all-time against No. 16 seeds in the men’s version of March Madness. On March 16 of that year, the record changed to 135-1.
Not only was Virginia the No. 1 overall seed, but UMBC was also considered one of the weakest No. 16 seeds in recent memory, having been drilled by Albany, 83-39, only two months prior. And to add insult to injury, the Retrievers mopped the floor with the ACC champions.
The game was tied at 21 at the break, enough to cause eyebrows to raise across the country. But with 20 minutes left to play, surely Virginia would work out the kinks in its game and wax the Retrievers back to Baltimore like No. 1 seeds always to do No. 16 seeds, right?
Oh, how spectacularly wrong that would turn out to be. UMBC would be the team to come out of halftime with a new lease on life. Retrievers forward Joe Sherburne hit a three with 19:08 left in the second half to break the gridlock and give UMBC a 24-21 advantage that it would not relinquish. The margin only widened from there, and before long, Virginia was staring at double-digit deficits minutes into the second half.
The Cavaliers would provide little resistance after falling behind, and UMBC cruised to a 74-54 shocker that will live on forever as one of the greatest upsets in sports history.
“I’ve been watching and coaching in NCAA tournament games my whole life, and I’ve heard it just like we all have, that a 16 will never defeat a top seed,” UMBC head coach Ryan Odom said after the game. “I think if you’ve really paid attention, then you know there have been times when it’s been close. So, yeah, it was bound to happen sometime. It turns out tonight was that sometime.”