Whenever college basketball fans have talked about the biggest upset in modern history, it was usually little Chaminade’s win in 1982 over No. 1 Virginia and Ralph Sampson in Honolulu.
Whenever they spoke of the biggest upset in the NCAA tournament, it was usually No. 15 seed Richmond’s win over No. 2 seed Syracuse at Cole Field House in 1991.
Given Chaminade was an NAIA school at the time, it still might be part of the the conversation. But given the stage on which UMBC crushed the Cavaliers on Friday, it’s at best a close second.
As for the NCAA tournament, the only game with more historic significance than UMBC’s win — and a much different kind of history — was Texas Western’s win over Kentucky in the 1966 title game in College Park.
Lyles hit a 25-footer at the buzzer to beat heavy favorite Vermont on its home court in the America East title game, sending the Retrievers to their first NCAA tournament since 2008. He put on another dazzling display in destroying Virginia’s vaunted pack-line defense.
Lyles finished with 28 points on 9-for-11 shooting, and played much of the second half fighting cramps. While it didn’t quite match Houston’s Rob Gray in terms of points (39 against San Diego State) or last-second heroics (Gray hit the game-winning drive with 1.1 seconds left), it was more impressive given the competition.
UMBC’s first NCAA tournament victory also did something else: It either paved the way for Villanova to win its second national championship in three years, or it gave all the other remaining long shots hope that they could do what the Retrievers did Friday.