On Friday, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County shocked the sporting universe by becoming the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The unheralded Retrievers won 74-54, blowing out a Virginia squad that had gone into March Madness as the nation’s top-ranked team.
Naturally, UMBC’s plucky underdogs have become national treasures overnight. Despite ruining everyone’s brackets (besides that of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who picked them to go all the way), a mob of eager new passengers have swarmed the Retrievers bandwagon. And they should! UMBC has a charismatic squad, and only diehard Virginia fans could watch their carefree beatdown of the straight-laced, defensively minded Cavaliers without coming away enchanted.
If you’re hesitant to join #RetrieverNation because you’re afraid to look like a poseur, don’t be. Drop the following lines into conversations this weekend, and everyone will come away thinking you are a lifelong UMBC fan who bleeds black and gold (PANTONE Black C and PANTONE 1235 C, according to the style guide posted on the school’s website).
“The Virginia win was fun, but I’m still buzzing from that 80-68 thriller over Liberty in the quarterfinals of the 2017 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.”
The Retrievers eventually lost to the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders in the semifinals. God, I hate those Islanders.
“Jairus Lyles looked like Alexander Onischuk out there!”
UMBC is a chess powerhouse, and Grandmaster Onischuk, a former Retriever, was the 2006 U.S. Chess Champion. Comparing UMBC’s star shooting guard to him is a high honor, indeed.
“Thank goodness there weren’t many video reviews during the second half; some of these other games take so long, I want to check myself into the Erickson School of Aging for study.”
According to its website, the UMBC Erickson School of Aging’s mission is to “prepare a community of leaders who will use their education to improve society by enhancing the lives of older adults.” My fellow Retriever diehards know what I’m talking about.
“Most people think True Grit, the mascot, is a Labrador, but he’s actually a Chesapeake Bay Retriever.”
It’s also the state dog of Maryland. These are things I have always known and did not just learn from reading Wikipedia after the game.
“Point guard K.J. Maura and swingman Joe Sherburne had an uncanny connection on the break, it was as if they were two species who became one, a phenomenon called speciation reversal’ that professors at UMBC’s Department of Biological Sciences have helped to provide groundbreaking research for.”
Read the abstract, published in Nature Communications.
“I hope we beat Kansas State on Sunday.”
Avoid any suspicion by pledging allegiance to the Retrievers through at least the end of the weekend.