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UVA Gets Dogged

UMBC absolutely demolished UVA by a score of 74-54 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament

UMBC absolutely demolished UVA by a score of 74-54 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament

Andrew Porterfield, Reporter

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Collegiate hoops madness is officially upon us. This season there were no clear favorites except for one: Virginia. But as any basketball fan may tell you, even they weren’t safe from the cruelty of the NCAA Tournament.

The opening round of the tournament began last week with UVA facing UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) in Charlotte. This first round matchup was between the 1 seed (UVA) and the 16 seed (UMBC). Throughout time, 16 seeds were 0-135 against 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, but that changed on March 16, 2018.

Nobody expected this upset, not even UMBC fans themselves. Once the Retrievers began that monstrous run in the second half, various phrases such as “What is going on?” and “This is actually going to happen!” were being uttered by fans rocking UMBC yellow.

“It’s awesome to know that we were able to be a source of a lot of joy for so many people, including ourselves, and bring our school together in a way it hasn’t been before. The full effect of it hopefully won’t even really be felt until it’s talked about for years afterward,” said junior forward Joe Sherburne, who scored 14 points and also grabbed 6 rebounds in the historic win.

Just a week earlier, UMBC was playing the Vermont Catamounts in the America East Tournament. Vermont was the heavy favorite, as they only conceded one conference game all year (15-1). However, Jairus Lyles hit a cold-blooded three as time expired to give UMBC the three point win.

A quite notable storyline about UMBC’s team chemistry is that the team is obsessed with the trending videogame, Fortnite. After a positive shift in momentum, the entirety of the UMBC bench could be seen doing celebrations straight out of the popular videogame. The team was even blessed with the opportunity to meet the creators of Fortnite and received some free gear.

“I’ve only played Fortnite like 5 times, but my teammates play it nonstop. They play from after practice until bed lots of nights, often together in squads. It’s basically a great team-building exercise that encourages communication and teamwork and builds camaraderie, so it helps a lot,” said Sherburne.

As Sherburne alluded to above, communication is key among high-level basketball players. Different from high school basketball, college basketball teams can’t rely on talent alone. It takes a great understanding of one’s teammates, along with recognizable communication.

“College basketball has taught me the importance of communication. One of the biggest differences between high school and college basketball is the amount of talking that takes place on and off the court. In order to be a good college team, you can’t rely on talent as much as you did in high school. Your team has to be ultra-connected. So whether you’re talking about who you’re guarding or an oncoming screen or what you’re wearing on the bus, you just have to make sure you’re talking. And that is a lesson that is useful in all areas of life,” said Sherburne.

With any tournament win comes national recognition, but a historical moment such as this often comes with celebrity attention as well. Prior to their second round matchup against Kansas State, the Retrievers were gifted with a team set of limited release Curry 5s (Stephen Curry’s signature Under Armour sneaker). The team also encountered numerous Twitter mentions from multiple figures in the public eye.

“I’m from Wisconsin and I am a huge Packers fan. I’ve always done Aaron Rodgers’ championship belt celebration after hitting big shots in my career and I was on the biggest stage possible in the NCAA tournament so I had to do it to try and let him see it. He shouted me out on Twitter and I about died,” said Sherburne.

Sherburne wanted to say one thing to all the underdogs out there: “’You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take – Wayne Gretzky’ – Michael Scott,” in allusion to a scene from The Office (U.S.), a very popular humorous T.V. show.

Ultimately, this piece of history is something that our grandkids will hear about. While the specific Final Four competitors may fall to the wayside in the memories of sports fans, everybody will remember the game in which the UMBC Chesapeake Bay Retrievers exclaimed “Victory Royale!” over the Virginia Cavaliers.

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Andrew Porterfield, Editor-in-Chief

Hey chief, my name’s Andrew Porterfield, and this is my fourth and final year on the Titan Times staff. I'm excited to enter into the editor-in-chief...

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UVA Gets Dogged