Everything you need to know about UMBC

Kevin Kaduk
The Dagger

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County woke up on Friday as just another small basketball program looking forward to a run against a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

It went to bed as a college basketball legend that will live in the history of the sport forever, the first No. 16 seed to topple a No. 1 in 136 tries since 1985.

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But as UMBC prepares to go where No. 16 seed has ever gone before — a second round date against ninth-seeded Kansas State awaits on Sunday — it is also the subject of unprecedented interest. Not only did the school’s website crash on Friday night, it was also one of the hottest Google search trends.


So in an effort to better educate you on a school that most of you didn’t know existed before Friday’s win over Virginia, here are a few answers for your questions about UMBC.

Where is the University of Maryland-Baltimore County?

UMBC is a public school of approximately 14,000 students located in Catonsville, Maryland, about  eight miles from downtown Baltimore. It was established in 1966 and is the fourth biggest school in the University of Maryland system.

Is it the same school as University of Maryland-Baltimore?

Nope, that’s an entirely different school.

Is the basketball program well known?

Nope. Prior to 2018, UMBC had only made one appearance in the NCAA tournament, a first-round loss to Georgetown as a No. 15 seed in 2008. It competes in the America East Conference and went 24-10 during the regular season, punching its ticket when Jairus Lyles hit a buzzer beater over Vermont in the conference tournament final.


Where do they play?

The school actually just opened the UMBC Events Center in February, an $85 million arena that seats about 5,000 people. Before that, UMBC played at the Retriever Activities Center, a 4,000-seat gym that wasn’t big enough to handle the school’s commencement ceremonies.

UMBC is located eight miles from downtown Baltimore.
UMBC is located eight miles from downtown Baltimore.

Who’s the coach?

UMBC is led by Ryan Odom, son of Dave Odom, who was the head coach at Wake Forest, South Carolina and East Carolina. Dave Odom was also an assistant at Virginia during the ’80s and Ryan worked as a ball boy.

Ryan Odom has been with the Retrievers for two seasons and was previously the coach at Lenoir-Rhyne, a Division II school in North Carolina you probably hadn’t heard of before today, either. He’s 46-23 at UMBC and has turned around the entire program. The Retrievers had gone 41-173 in the seven seasons before Odom was hired.

Is the mascot really a retriever named True Grit?

Yup. The school had a mascot naming contest when it opened in the mid-60s and the winning entry was from a student who nominated a Chesapeake Bay retriever. A 500-pound bronze statue of a retriever named “True Grit” sits in the middle of campus.


Who are the most famous people who have attended UMBC?

The most famous UMBC alumni is undoubtedly actress Kathleen Turner, who earned a fine arts degree in 1977. But there’s also “Ace of Cakes” star Duff Goldman and Dan Patrick, the conservative radio host turned lieutenant governor of Texas. Oh, and the men who just became the answer to “who engineered the greatest March Madness upset of all time,” of course.


More March Madness coverage from Yahoo Sports:
UMBC shocks Virginia, first 16-seed ever to beat a No. 1
What is UMBC? Everything you need to know about the university
UMBC’s upset eliminated last perfect bracket in Yahoo Sports Tourney Pick’em
Where UMBC’s upset of Virginia ranks among all-time greatest upsets
Meet UMBC’s other hero, the man behind its famous Twitter account

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