The run is over. America’s darlings are out. The biggest story in March Madness history screeched to a halt on Sunday night. But will it ever really die?
The UMBC Retrievers, two days after shocking Virginia and the world with the game of their lives, lost to Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA tournament. They looked exhausted, and dropped what was, in all honesty, an ugly game, 50-43.
But they will never be forgotten. They captured the imagination of the sports world. They became the first No. 16 seed ever to beat a No. 1. And they didn’t just beat the top overall seed; they blew Virginia out, 74-54.
They then lapped up the attention for a full 48 hours. Everyone from Jairus Lyles to their social media guy collectively became the biggest story in sports. They got shoes from Steph Curry and coverage from media outlets big and small. They busted brackets and made people rich.
But they entered the Kansas State game as a 10.5-point underdog, and regressed to the 16-seed they were. The game was scrappy, which is a generous euphemism for downright bad. It was 25-20 at halftime, and 34-33 at the under-eight media timeout in the second half. Kansas State, at that point, had 15 turnovers, but UMBC hadn’t scored a single point off them.
The Wildcats held Friday’s hero, Jairus Lyles, to 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting. They shut out Joe Sherburne. UMBC shot under 30 percent from the field, and missed half of its 18 free throws.
Neither team looked like it belonged in the Sweet 16. But Kansas State will be. It will take on Kentucky on Thursday, perhaps with its best player, Dean Wade, back in uniform.
But it’s UMBC that will always be remembered.
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More NCAA tournament coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Nevada stuns Cincy with comeback better than Pats over Falcons
• Jim Boeheim uses controversial tactic to outcoach Tom Izzo and clinch upset
• Michigan player stops celebrating to console heartbroken opponent
• UMBC gets a special gift from Steph Curry before Kansas State game