“Oh my goodness. UMBC is actually going to do this. I’m witnessing history.” This thought popped into my head with ten minutes left in the Round of 64 game as the overall number one seeded Virginia Cavaliers as they took a 20 point loss from the 16 seeded University of Maryland – Baltimore County Retrievers. The game is historical. No 16 seed has ever beaten a 1 seed. It wasn’t a fluke either, the Retrievers controlled the game. It was magic. It’s what we’ve come to love about March.
I watched and cheered as Loyola Chicago hit not just one, but two buzzer beaters to upset higher seeded teams. I cheered as the Thundering Herd of Marshall beat Wichita State and I lamented the fact that Bucknell came up short against Michigan State. I love the Chaos that the NCAA tournament brings. That feeling, however, is bitter if your team is on the other side of the magic.
I’m a University of Houston man. I watched as Rob Gray hit the go ahead layup against San Diego State. I was elated. First tournament victory for the Cougars since 1984, a full 5 years before I was born. This was it. This was my Phi Slamma Jamma. The Cougars played Michigan on Saturday night. I was pumped. Sitting in my living room, decked out in red and white. Then, Cougars up 2 with three seconds left, I thought to myself “We got this.” (The hardcore sports fan just groaned). As that thought crossed my mind, Michigan inbounded the ball, heaved up a prayer, and… God answered. My wife woke up to an angry shout.
That’s the tournament though. No one is safe, not even the one seeds. The agony and joy combine to make the tournament what it is: Madness. It’s not just a clever name.