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2018 NCAA Tournament: Notes From Friday

As the impossible happens. In spades.

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NCAA Basketball Tournament - First Round - Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 16: The UMBC Retrievers celebrate their 74-54 victory over the Virginia Cavaliers during the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Spectrum Center on March 16, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Boy do we feel stupid: after Thursday we said we couldn’t see Friday comparing. Boy were we wrong.

The Marshall win over Wichita State was great. The Nevada win over Texas was stunning. It was nice to see the Martin twins do well (although it must have killed State fans).

All of that, great as it was, was dwarfed by what UMBC did to Virginia.

The #16 seed didn’t just take down #1 (and overall #1) Virginia.

The Retrievers humiliated Virginia. That team that so frustrated the ACC this season? Where were they?

Not in Charlotte.

The Retrievers just took them apart and instead of fading, instead of being strangled by Virginia’s defense, UMBC basically laughed in Virginia’s face. Instead of the game tightening down the stretch, UMBC pushed the lead out even further.

It was Clay-Liston only not fixed. It was Douglas-Tyson. It was - yes we’re going there - Appalachian State in the Big House.

Well, if ASU won 48-3 maybe.

It was the most remarkable basketball upset since Chaminade took UVa in Hawaii during the Ralph Sampson era. We can’t think of anything else that comes close.

During the game we were watching Tony Bennett who looked like a caged animal. He’s so cool on the sideline that you don’t see the ferocious, calculating competitor.

Instead there was a different look on his face. It was a look we often see on the faces of Virginia’s competitors, a sense of shock, of incredulity.

Even so, after the game he was incredibly graceful. He spoke movingly about how he told his team that life had many challenges and opportunities and that they could learn from this.

Then he said it sucked and that was true too.

At the end of the game, after he fouled out, the camera honed in on Isaiah Wilkins, who was clearly distraught.

It’s totally understandable of course, but in his case, we were a bit worried. He has talked a lot of about his struggle with depression. We hope that he finds a way, quickly, to put this in perspective. He’s had an amazing career at Virginia and has earned immense respect. Four years should not be cast aside over one shocking loss.

Otherwise, UNC, Clemson, Florida State and Syracuse all won. They’ll now face, respectively, Texas A&M, Auburn, Xavier and Michigan State.

All ultimately forgettable. UMBC? As long as the game is played, that’ll never be forgotten.

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