UMBC toppling Virginia wasn't biggest upset ever

Arthur Triche
March 17, 2018 - 9:22 pm
UMBC Retrievers

© Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports


If you've been around awhile, you've seen a lot of great things - and sometimes, not so many great things - about sports that remain forever etched in memory.

After spending some moments reflecting on Friday's titanic 16-seed victory by UMBC over 1-seeded Virginia (in addition, the OVERALL 1 seed of this year's NCAA tournament), I've wondered if it ranks as the biggest upset ever.

In sports???  Nope.

That will forever be Buster Douglas' humbling and stunning win over Mike Tyson in Tokyo, Japan in 1990.  You object?  It's my post, write your own.

It was the night of the NBA All-Star Saturday events, and as I arrived back at the hotel in Miami, someone screamed, "Tyson got knocked the f-*#@ out!"  My reaction, obviously, was: "WHATTT??!!??  By whom??!!"  Who knew anything about Buster?  If you said you did, you're lying.

Douglas beat Mr. Invincible.  At that juncture of his career, Mr. 37-0.  He was a 42-1 favorite and Douglas literally "shocked the world."

But, enough about that stunner.

If you wondered if last night's 20-point shocker by Maryland-Baltimore County even touched the pinnacle of the college basketball world, I'd say, like Dikembe Mutombo's finger wag - "no, no, no...not today." And if you aren't old enough to remember the games I'm about to list, do yourselves a favor and Google it.

Yes, it was jaw-dropping.  Yes, it was David over Goliath.  But, in my humble opinion, it ranks as the third biggest rock drop in college hoops history.

Nothing will ever top April 1, 1985 in Lexington, KY.

It was the Georgetown Hoyas against the Villanova Wildcats.  The defending champs (GU) against their then-Big East rivals (VU).  Big John Thompson and his imposing band of Hoyas, led by future Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, against longtime VU coach Rollie Massimino and his underdog Wildcats.

Many described the outcome as "the Perfect Game," and it truly was. But to this day, I still don't understand how Villanova pulled it off.  Georgetown was one of college basketball's most relentless defensive teams, harassing opponents into shooting 39 percent from the field that season. Yet the Wildcats darn near hit every shot they attempted that night.  VU finished with a tournament-record 79 PERCENT from the field, making a mind-boggling 22 of 28 shots in the game, and 9 of 10 in the second half - when it mattered most.

They frustrated the Hoyas with their pin-point shooting and while Georgetown wouldn't give up - they were the defending national champions - it just wasn't meant to be.  Undersized, but full of spirit Ed Pinckney outscored and out-rebounded Ewing - 16 points to 14 and six boards to five - to take home the Most Outstanding Player honor of the Final Four, as the Wildcats upset Georgetown, 66-64.

Headlines read "STUNNER," "PURR-FECT," and the aforementioned "PERFECT GAME," and those superlatives still might not have done it justice.  It was just that special.  Watch the video, I'm not lying.

While UMBC's victory doesn't rank in my top three - no, it really doesn't - and I'm not being ornery, it's impact on the college basketball world will be felt for years to come.  They handled and dominated the ACC's best and destroyed the Cavaliers' expected eventual championship parade, shredding brackets around the country in the process - you didn't have them winning either - but they would fall into the No. 4 spot on my list.

Get mad, call me crazy, but here's my all-time college basketball biggest upsets:

1. Villanova over Georgetown (if you don't know, now you know);

2. Chaminade over No. 1 Virginia (the Cavaliers had 7-foot-4 Ralph Sampson, the soon to be three-time Naismith Award winner, and Virginia was the nation's top team. It was an early season game in Hawaii that was expected to be a easy rout.  Expected to be.  The NAIA Silverswords defied the experts, and the wonder that was Sampson, to upset the Cavaliers, 77-72, forcing them into 25 ugly turnovers.  Because it wasn't a national title game, it comes in second on my list, but impactful nonetheless.)

3. NC State over Houston (another national championship game - if you knew about the Cougars, it was one of the most talented teams ever - with future Hall of Famers Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler and plenty of muscle and high-flying talent across the roster (Phi Slama Jama, if you forgot), up against the gritty, gutty Wolfpack.  In the end, much like the Villanova stunner, it came down to the last shot - a dunk, but not by Houston. It was a game-ending slam by Lorenzo Charles - and a 54-52 NC State victory.)

#4 - Friday, March 16, 2018...'nuff said.

How memorable.

We are still picking our mouths off the floor.

Enjoy it, Retrievers.

We will never forget it...well, until it happens again...because this year's tournament isn't done yet.

One shining moment indeed.