Z on TV Critic David Zurawik writes about the business and culture of TV

CBS Sports Network revisits historic UMBC basketball victory tonight on 'Four Sides'

UMBC’s upset of the University of Virginia in last season’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament is the kind of feel-good sports story you can’t get enough of, and CBS Sports Network is serving up another tasty helping tonight at 7 on its “Four Sides of the Story” series.

The half-hour program is divided into four segments, with the topic looked at from four points of view.

UMBC’s 74-54 victory over Virginia was the first time in NCAA men’s tournament history that a team seeded 16th beat a team seeded first. The record of No. 1 seeds vs. No. 16 seeds was 135-0 before the Retrievers’ upset.

The first segment revisits the game through the eyes of CBS courtside reporter Tracy Wolfson, one of the best in network sports. Wolfson recounts how confident Virginia’s coach and players seemed in their timeout huddles even as UMBC held double-digit leads.

Even with just eight or nine minutes left in the game, they seemed quietly confident, she says. But during a timeout with four minutes left, “They were like stunned,” she says of the Virginia players and coaches. “I felt shock.”

The second segment goes to Zach Seidel, who handled social media for UMBC sports that night and became one of the biggest stories of the first weekend of the tournament for his savvy tweets during the game pushing back at those who had dismissed his school’s chances.

“It’s taken me awhile to realize I was a part of it,” Seidel says. “I helped bring a Twitter account from 5,400 followers to 111,000 followers in 48 hours. They put me on the keyboard, and a lot of 3s [3-point shots] went in, and here we are,” he says in the program.

The last two segments go to players: Isaiah Wilkins of Virginia and K.J. Maura, the undersized point guard from UMBC who lit up the arena with his ballhandling, energy and shooting.

This is a not series that tries to go deep, but the cable channel uses the access and resources of CBS Sports to blend skillfully edited images of events with recollections of key participants in those events. I was transported back to this epic upset 10 seconds into the program, and it held me there until the end.

Comcast viewers in Baltimore City can see CBS Sports Network on Channel 854.

david.zurawik@baltsun.com

twitter.com/davidzurawik

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