The #16 seeded UMBC Retrievers will be taking on the #1 overall seed UVA Cavaliers tonight in Charlotte, North Carolina in what will be the Retrievers first appearance in the tournament since 2008.
— UMBC Mens Basketball (@UMBC_MBB) March 14, 2018
The Retrievers clinched the America East Conference title last week vs. Vermont thanks to a last-second GW three by Jairus Lyles. After pulling off the inevitable last week, the Retrievers have a much taller task tonight as they face a team with just three losses on the year.
Coach Odom and the gang arrived in Charlotte this past Tuesday, after warm send-off by fans in Catonsville. And ever since then they’ve been strategizing on their road to attempting to make history.
At the end of practice @UMBC_MBB lined up to meet and shake the hands of Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Tracy Wolfson and Bill Raftery. These players are a class act on and off the court! #3Pillars #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/nHPZH1ugHn
— America East (@AmericaEast) March 16, 2018
— UMBC Athletics (@UMBCAthletics) March 16, 2018
See, no 16th seed in tournament history has ever beaten the 1st seed and the Retrievers have a shot at being the first tonight.
If they have any chance of doing so they’re going to need big games from senior guards K.J. Maura and Jairus Lyles. Throughout the season these two have been the most consistent and efficient players on both ends of the floor.
Lyles, in the win vs. Vermont had a game-high 27 points and he’s been averaging 20.2ppg off 43.6% shooting on the season. Lyles is undoubtedly the most mature, efficient player on the court and his exceptional basketball IQ is why coach Odom and teammates trust and count on him.
Maura is an undersized guard yet he is UMBC’s best defender. Maura, an America East all-defensive player should be a huge factor on the defensive end for the Retrievers.
To be able to pull off this miraculous upset, Coach Odom is going to need more production from players like Arkel Lamar, Max Curran, Jourdan Grant and Joe Sherburne, not only in terms of scoring but getting to the boards and closing off the perimeter for Cavalier big men Jack Salt and Isaiah Wilkes.
In the game against Vermont, Lyles was the only UMBC player to score in double digits. The next highest scoring player was Maura with just 8. With a Tony Bennett run defense, it’s going to be hard for Lyles and Maura to be as productive as they’ve been vs. conference teams.
So, therefore, if UMBC is to upset the number 1 ranked team, it’s going to have to be a collective effort in scoring.
This will be a completely new experience for UMBC’s entire roster, but Coach Ryan Odom has confidence in his team after playing well early on against powerhouses like SMU and Arizona who they faced to start the season.
Odom, in an interview with the Baltimore Sun, states “I don’t think they’ll be wowed by that but it’s going to be a tall order without a doubt.”
— America East (@AmericaEast) March 15, 2018
The Retrievers will get to decide whether or not they will be this year’s Cinderella story by making history vs. UVA.
Will David once again conquer Goliath?
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) March 15, 2018
Shootaround at Spectrum Center pic.twitter.com/MzGxbfI6wu
— UMBC Athletics (@UMBCAthletics) March 15, 2018