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NCAA tournament: UMBC opens as — what else? — heavy underdog vs. Kansas State

A day after the UMBC men’s basketball team exceeded Las Vegas’ expectations by a whopping 40 points in a 74-54 win over top-seeded Virginia, the Retrievers are commanding more respect from sportsbooks.

Just not enough to make them favorites in Sunday’s Round of 32 NCAA tournament game. No. 16 seed UMBC opened Saturday as a 10-point underdog against No. 9 seed Kansas State, which on Friday defeated No. 8 Creighton despite missing its top scorer.

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They will not wilt under the national spotlight, bright as it might be with a prime-time television spot. The players will not lose focus, even with the social media wave that has endured long after the final buzzer sounded.

If the betting line holds, it will be the third straight game in which the Retrievers are double-digit underdogs. According to OddsShark, Vermont was favored by 10 in the America East final, and the Cavaliers were 20½-point favorites Friday night.

Kansas State was a slight underdog in its first-round game, owing partly to a key injury. Forward Dean Wade, who’s averaging a team-high 16.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, has missed the Wildcats’ past two games because of a foot injury. The 6-foot-10 junior is unlikely to play much against the Retrievers, if at all.

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