UMBC’s historic run in becoming the first No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 in the men’s basketball tournament on Friday came to an end Sunday as the Retrievers lost to Kansas State, 50-43. But based on what sports writers, UMBC alums and others have to say, their grit and determination will not soon be forgotten.

(Plus not only did UMBC get its own Sports Illustrated digital cover, it appears they’ve received an invitation from the Orioles in which we can only assume fans will be able to show them their appreciation.)


Here’s what some sports writers had to say.

Reid Forgrave, CBS Sports: “For what amounts to a moment — for 40 minutes of basketball on Friday night, and then for the ensuing 48 hours where the UMBC Retrievers were all the sports world could talk about — they made us believe.

“This is not an easy thing in America 2018. We are a place bereft of idealism, where our government institutions are presumed to be as corrupt as our amateur athletics system. Snark rules the day and poisons our souls. The system seems stacked against the little guy.

“It was into that toxic milieu that the UMBC Retrievers — the littlest of little guys, the 16-seed against the No. 1 overall seed, the team with the 5-8-in-heels point guard, K.J. Maura, who announcer Bill Raftery described as ‘110 pounds and the rest is heart’ — marched on Friday night. ...

“The UMBC Retrievers, for one special night, made us believe in what was supposed to be impossible.

“In a world where belief is a rare commodity and where the little guy so often has the decks stacked against him, that's a belief worth bottling up and keeping in our cupboards forever.”

Tom Weir, Bleacher Report: “Take heart, UMBC. Even the real Cinderella lost a shoe and saw her carriage revert to a pumpkin as time ran out on her fairy tale night.

“But just as Cinderella went on to find her Prince Charming, so too will UMBC forever remain part of college basketball royalty.

“The team with the hard-to-remember name made an unforgettable trip to the NCAA tournament. Not only did the University of Maryland-Baltimore County become the first men's No. 16 seed to win a game, but it also nearly doubled down on its lucky number and became the first one to reach the Sweet 16. …

“So even though the Retrievers leave without championship rings, they will be remembered forever. Maybe not the way Texas Western and Loyola of Chicago are remembered, as small schools who won it all, but still as giant killers who did what was beginning to seem impossible.

“For that, one of the shoe companies needs to send them some glass slippers.”

Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star: “Kansas State’s first regional semifinal since 2010 and second since 1988 won’t get much national mention, not with 98-year-old Sister Jean cheering on Loyola, Nevada’s comeback for the ages against Cincinnati, or No. 16-seed UMBC’s historic triumph over tourney top-seed Virginia spotlighting the first weekend. ...

“The Wildcats had a role in all this, not taking down a top-four seed but playing a bit of a spoiler on Sunday, putting the kibosh on the Retrievers’ feel-good story with a grueling 50-43 victory over UMBC.

“The struggle was mighty because defensive intensity on both sides was superb and legs had to be a bit drained. The clock ticked for nearly 3 1/2 minutes in the second half with the score 34-33.


“That was more explainable for the Retrievers. No way the players got normal rest after logging what will take place alongside the greatest upsets in sports history.

“‘It captured our country and beyond, and beyond from a sporting perspective,’” UMBC coach Ryan Odom said. ‘It was really, really neat to see.’”

And there was appreciation for UMBC’s accomplishments on Twitter as well:

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