If you had any doubts about whether or not March would truly go mad, Friday answered those doubts with authority. We saw close games up and down the slate of games, highlighted by a historic upset.
For thirteen consecutive hours Friday, the NCAA Tournament treated fans to non-stop action. While some fans may grumble about how that action affected their favorite team or their bracket, the drama could not be topped. From a neutral perspective, Friday’s collection of games were as juicy and as rich as any viewer could have hoped for.
The 16 games on Friday had vast implications for specific teams, the rest of the tournament, and college basketball as a whole. Here are the ten biggest takeaways from the crazy day.
1. UMBC delivers biggest upset in college basketball history
There is no storyline from this day or this tournament that will match UMBC’s upset of Virginia. It was the most shocking result in college basketball history. Not only did a 16 seed beat a 1 seed, but they blew out the top overall seed.
Once the Retrievers started sinking shots in the second half, the game never felt close. Virginia fans, disciples, and defenders always mention the Cavaliers’ leads and point out how their pace makes the margin even more insurmountable. The same turns out to be true when the tables turned. Virginia, facing its largest deficit this season, did not have the time or patience to run its normal offense. The Cavaliers forced shots and failed to get into a rhythm.
That’s not to take anything away from UMBC. The Retrievers were spectacular, led by Jairus Lyles. The scoring point guard won the America East Tournament final with a game-winning three at Vermont and then outdid himself versus Virginia. Lyles had 28 points on 9-11 shooting from the field. Even against the best defense in college basketball, he did everything he wanted. If he continues to play like that, there’s no reason the Retrievers road ends here.