Take a moment. Close your eyes. Think back to last night and where you were, who you were with, and how you saw it. Got it? Good. Because for years and years to come, when you cross paths with a stranger (on a bus, in a train station, waiting for a takeout order) and it just so happens to come up in conversation that you both like college basketball, you will ask one another the same question: “Remember when Virginia lost?”
You may not remember Jairus Lyles and how, where so many great ones before had failed, he alone succeeded in gashing Virginia’s historic defense. How the Retrievers scored 74 points on THAT defense when in the previous 33 games of the season, no one had broken 70. You may not remember that UMBC scored 53 points (53!!!) in the second half. But you will remember the result.
The Cavaliers are going home. And the Retrievers of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County are going on.
Oh, and there were some other games as well. Here is how the rest of the ACC fared in their opening rounds:
#11 Syracuse beats #11 Arizona State 60-56
The Orange staged a late rally to win their First Four matchup in Dayton and advance into the field of 64. Cuse trailed 49-42 with 7 minutes left in the game, but closed on an 18-7 run, to send the Sun Devils home. As is tradition, the three-headed monster of Brissett, Battle, and Howard provided the bulk of the scoring with Brissett in particular doing damage: He finished with 23 and 12. One might consider being disappointed that grouchy Jim Boeheim and his undeserving team were victorious (Cuse had no business being in the tournament), but when one considers the head coach of the Sun Devils is Bobby Hurley, one might instead be very glad.
Syracuse’s comeback win would lead to...
#11 Syracuse beats #6 TCU 57-52
The Orange continued their run by beating the Horned Frogs in a low-scoring grind. For once, it was not the usual suspects that led Boeheim’s club to victory, but Marek Dolezaj, who finished with 17 points to lead all scorers. Oshae Brissett chipped in 15 and the Orange shutdown a TCU offense that had averaged 83 points a game, stifling the Frogs into 3-17 shooting from the field. This is starting to look uncomfortably familiar...
#2 Duke beats #15 Iona 89-67
Ho hum. The Gaels actually hung in there for a bit, trailing just 26-23 midway through the first half. Then the Blue Devils decided to play defense and that was that. Marvin Bagley finished with 22 points and the Devils went 13-30 from three. Grayson Allen and Trevon Duval wreaked havoc on the overmatched Iona backcourt, combining for 35 points and 17 assists. In this week’s sign of the Apocalypse: Duval was 4-5 from three. What. Duke moves on to face Rhode Island this afternoon.
#6 Miami falls to #11 Loyola Chicago 64-62
Was it good for you to? Watching the Senior Night-stealing Canes get daggered at the buzzer was cathartic for any Tar Heel fan who still felt the sting of watching Pinson and Berry give their speeches in defeat. Donte Ingram’s gamewinning three with .4 seconds left on the clock gave Loyola its first tournament win in 33 years. The Canes loss wasn’t really an upset (many had Loyola getting the win), but they were the first significant seed to fall. Miami shot themselves in the foot with 16 turnovers in a low-possession game. They shot 51% from the field, but got off six fewer attempts. That’s your ballgame right there.
#9 NC State loses to #8 Seton Hall 94-83
State got a monster performance from Allerik Freeman, who finished with 36 points on 12-19 shooting, but couldn’t slow Seton Hall’s offense. Give credit where credit is due: This was a far better than expected year for NC State. After cutting lose Mark Gottfried and watching Dennis Smith leave for the pros, the Wolfpack weren’t expected to do much of anything. But Kevin Keatts delivered victories over UNC, Duke, Arizona, and Clemson, and got the Pack to the NCAA Tournament after a two year absence. They should go into the offseason feeling good about their future. That being said...heh.
#8 Virginia Tech loses to #9 Alabama 86-83
“Snap out of it Buzz!” A terrific game between the Hokies and the Tide was put to bed when Buzz Williams did his best Larry Eustachy impression and picked up a technical that iced his team’s season. OK, it wasn’t THAT nuts, but still, c’mon man. VA Tech and Bama went blow for blow the entire game and played some fantastic basketball, but at the end of the day, one team had Collin Sexton and the other did not. The freshman phenom finished with 25 points and 6 assists, and hit several clutch free throws down the stretch to close the game. The Hokies got a great game out of Justin Robinson, who finished with 19 points and 7 assists on just 8 shots. It was a controversial charge call on Robinson in the final minute that caused WIlliams to erupt. The call wiped out an and-one that could have cut the Tide’s lead to one with 48 seconds left.
#1 Virginia falls to #16 UMBC 74-54
“Shame and eternal shame. Nothing...but shame.”
Henry V, Act IV, Scene 5
#5 Clemson beats #12 New Mexico State 79-68
The Tigers were a trendy upset pick (guilty!) but took control early and never relinquished it. Gabe DeVoe and Shelton Mitchel both had big time games, combining for 45 points on 28 shots. Clemson shot 56% from the field and raced out to an 11-point halftime lead that the Aggies never really chipped into. Brad Brownell’s squad have given their program its first tournament win since 2011.
#9 Florida State beats #9 Missouri 67-54
Leonard Hamilton’s team rode a terrific performance from their bench to a breezy victory over the Tigers in a game that wasn’t as close as the final scoreline suggested. The Seminoles got 40 points from their bench and came storming out of the gates to take a 42-20 at the half and Mizzou never threatened them in the 2nd half. Mfiondu Kabengele and pJ Savoy had 14 and 12 respectively off the bench and the Noles hounded Michael Porter Jr. and the Tigers into just 33% shooting from the field.