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Year after year, No. 16 seeds have tried, unsuccessfully, to take down a No. 1 seed. Before Friday, they were 0-135 in first-round games.
It was equal parts inexplicable and incredible. It was history made and a barrier broken.
"We got our butts whipped," Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said. "That's a credit to the job coach Ryan Odom did. Their offense was very hard to guard, they shot it well. We kept getting broken down, and did a poor job."
Bennett was short on words and scrambling to find answers for the loss that stunned America. Putting it into instant context is a tough ask after being shell-shocked, and even he couldn't exactly put a finger on what happened that took his team from a title favorite to one-and-done.
So where did it all go wrong for Virginia, the ACC regular-season and postseason champs? The team that finished with the best record in all of college basketball? It started with UMBC breaking down what Virginia has done so well all season.
Virginia's defense collapsed
Entering Friday, Virginia boasted the No. 5 overall 3-point defense in the country, limiting opponents to just 30.3 percent. UMBC smashed that number by sinking 12 of 24 from beyond the arc.
The Retrievers carved out space on offense by dictating tempo and Virginia graciously allowed it, which paved the way for UMBC to find easy opportunities and quick baskets in transition. Here you can see UMBC with a quick pass in transition and a 3-pointer was in the air before four seconds had passed in the shot clock.
When UMBC wasn't letting the rock fly from deep, it was in full-on attack mode. It played with zero hesitation. The Retrievers showed great intuition by knowing when to pull the trigger, and when to attack the basket. They finished 7 of 10 on layups, according to Stats Broadcast, and earned 11 of their 74 points on the fast break.
Virginia's scoring defense ranked No. 1 in the NCAA before Friday, allowing just 53.4 points per game. UMBC's 74 are the most the Cavaliers allowed to an opponent all season.
UMBC doesn't have blue-chip players like Duke or North Carolina or other teams Virginia faces on a regular basis in the ACC, but matchup problems are matchup problems, and Virginia had them in spades.
"We had a hard time with their mobile fours and their four guards, and I don't know what to say but that -- it was a thorough butt-whoopin'," Bennett said.
Four of the five starters in UMBC's lineup finished in double figures and only one -- center Daniel Akin -- stacked up taller than 6-feet-6. The small lineup, although somewhat out of necessity given its roster, allowed UMBC to push the pace and essentially play small ball against Virginia. It was conducive to ball movement and, most important, ball security.
The Retrievers turned it over just 12 times and, as evidenced by their 16 team assists, shared the wealth on offense by driving and kicking to find open teammates.
The absence of De'Andre Hunter, Virginia's most versatile defender who suffered a wrist injury before the NCAA Tournament, loomed large going into the Big Dance. His presence might not have eliminated all of the matchup woes, but could have, at the least, mitigated some of the deficiencies UMBC exposed.
Virginia went cold
Sometimes you can tell early when it's simply not your night. That wasn't exactly the case for Virginia, though. Although it went to halftime tied at 21-all, the Cavaliers shot a respectable 39.1 percent from the floor and had their defense operating well enough to keep UMBC uncomfortable.
But part of the problem for Virginia was that it crawled into a shell offensively it couldn't hermit its way out. The Cavaliers went more than 10 minutes of the second half without landing a 3-pointer and took just five in the 10-plus minutes before one finally went through the net.
By that time, the Cavs were already down 16 points.
Virginia shot 41 percent (23 of 56) from the field, but the difference in the game came down to 3-point inaccuracy. While UMBC hit 12 of 24, Virginia, which ranked 29th this season in 3-point shooting at 39.0 percent, made just 4 of its 22 attempts from downtown.
That's 18 percent.
Had Virginia made its season average, this might have been a different story.
But then again, there were so many different factors that went right for UMBC -- and wrong for Virginia -- that the "what ifs?" that produced this historic outcome are exactly what make this result so flabbergasting.
"It stings," Bennett said. "But I tried to tell the guys that this is life. It can't define you."