You know you have reached some sort of historic milestone when you merit a Wikipedia profile. Thirty-six years ago the Virginia men's basketball team achieved that status when the Cavaliers, ranked No. 1 in the country, with 3-time Player of the Year center Ralph Sampson, were upset by Chaminade, an NAIA school from Hawaii.
The loss has been arguably labeled the greatest upset in the history of college basketball.
On Friday night, the Cavaliers, the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, added Chapter 2 to their Wikipedia file by becoming the first No. 1 seeded men's team to ever lose to a No. 16 seed in the NCAA tournament--for historical purposes, the No. 16 seeded Harvard's women were the first team to ever beat a No. 1 seed by upsetting Stanford on March 14, 1998.
The Cavaliers didn't just lose. ""We got our butt whipped,'' said Virginia coach Tony Bennett after his team was run out of the tournament by UMBC (University of Maryland-Baltimore County) 74-54. "That was not even close. A week ago we were cutting down nets (as Atlantic Coast Conference tournament champions_ and then we make history by being the first No. 1 seed to lose (to a No. 16 seed).''
For the record, No. 1s are now 135-1 against No. 16s.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
And this wasn't even a regular season conference champion from a mid-major conference. This was the No. 2 team in the America East behind regular season leader Vermont. This was a team which lost to Arizona by 25, to Army by 11, to Maryland by 21, to Albany by 44 and to Vermont by 28 before stunning the Catamounts in the America East tournament finals at Vermont.
How's this for historical perspective? UMBC coach Ryan Odom is the son of former Wake Forest coach Dave Odom, who was an assistant at Virginia when it lost to Chaminade in 1982. Ryan Odom was a ball boy on that Virginia team.
As usual, the first two days of the tournament were characterized by somewhat stunning results. No. 4 Buffalo's 89-68 win over No. 4 Arizona was the first bracket buster of the tournament. No. 11 Loyola's 64-62 upset over No. 6 Miami was another surprise.
But as crazy as this season in which at least 10 teams still would seem to have legitimate chances of reaching the Final Four, the No. 1 vs. No. 16 pattern seemed secure.
Kansas had some early problems with No. 16 Penn, but pulled away for a 16-point win. And No. 1 Xavier had to use at least 35 minutes of energy in outlasting No. 16 Texas Southern 102-83. Only No. 1 Villanova played its role perfectly in blowing past No. 16 Radford, 87-61.
But Virginia, which had only lost two games all season and won the ACC regular season by four games, was in a struggle from the opening tipoff.
Now it is part of college basketball history for the wrong reason as far as the Cavaliers are concerned.
Just how far UMBC, which now faces No. 9 Kansas State on Sunday night, can go beyond their win over Virginia remains to be seen.
As usual, the crazy world of college coaching is taking some interesting twists. Georgia hired former Indiana coach Tom Crean without having Crean visit the Georgia campus...UConn has hired a search firm (Parker) to find a replacement for Kevin Ollie. According to numerous sources the names at the top of the list are Rhode Island coach Danny Hurley, South Carolina coach Frank Martin, former Ohio State coach (who turned down an offer from Georgia) Thad Matta and St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt. Hurley could be a leader in the club house at UConn and at Pittsburgh. L If URI loses to Duke on Saturday night, look for a resolution to Hurley's status in the next few days...How pathetic is the Pac-12, which lost all three of its teams (UCLA, USC, Arizona by the end of the first full day of the tournament? Going into the Round of 32 play, the SEC (which is making noise as a serious basketball conference) had its entire top tier advance in Auburn, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, Alabama and Texas A&M. Only Arkansas and Missouri flamed out in the first round.[/membership]