It finally happened. A 16-seed finally defeated a one seed. Not just any one seed – the overall No. 1 seed Virginia who was 31-2 coming into the game. Calling UMBC’s upset “shocking” would be an understatement.
This wasn’t a one seed from a mid major that racked up wins not playing anyone. It was the ACC Champion; the team who beat Duke and North Carolina. We’ve seen close games from 16 seeds where the favorite finally comes together to pull it out but that was not the case for Friday night’s historical upset.
Virginia was the most popular pick to win the national championship in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge with 20.1 percent.
Even when it was discovered that the Cavaliers’ sixth-man De’Andre Hunter broke his wrist and would not play in the tournament, at worst, they were a popular pick to lose to either Arizona or Kentucky in the Sweet 16.
Perhaps what is most difficult to accept is that it wasn’t a buzzer-beater. It was a 74-54 blowout. UMBC shot 12 of 24 from three-point range while Virginia was 4 of 22 and the Retrievers also out-rebounded the Cavaliers 33 to 22.
Imagine watching that game with someone who has never watched a basketball game and try telling them that Virginia was supposed to be the best team in basketball. They looked awful.
You kept waiting for Virginia to come back but they never did. And the same will happen for Virginia and head coach Tony Bennett.
Being the first one seed to lose to a 16 seed is something you don’t come back from. In fact, ESPN is probably working on a 30 for 30 right now about it.
No one will remember the ACC tournament championships or winning the ACC regular season or the fact that Bennett has went 143-33 since 2013. He and his team will always be remembered for this moment. This was the tourney favorite and they went down in horrific fashion.
No 15 seed upset can compare. Lehigh and Midd Tenn State who? No, not even Final Four runs by 11 seeds will be talked about as the greatest upsets ever. Virginia and Bennett will never shake that one.
For the third time, Virginia was a one seed and failed to make it to the Final Four. Heck, they have only reached the Elite Eight one time in those three trips. That’s a stigma that teams don’t shake and it comes into play for future tournaments.
But above all else, March 16, 2018 is the day BennettBall was fully exposed. Playing at the slow pace and then losing to a 16 seed presents a branding problem and good luck trying to sell that to recruits.