UMBC made history last night as the first 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed, Virginia, in the NCAA March Madness Tournament. Prior to this game, 16 seeds were 0-135 in the tournament.
So how does a team seemingly come out of nowhere to beat a powerhouse program like UVA, one that had an exceptionally strong season?
The post-game press conference provided valuable insight into the UMBC players’ mindsets before and during the game.
Here are the highlights:
Before the game, players had confidence that they could play with – and beat – Virginia; they said they had no doubt they could contend with such a top team
They saw their ranking as a chance – an opportunity – to make history, rather than seeing it as an obstacle or barrier to success
At half-time, realizing they were tied 21-21 after a first half where their shots weren’t falling, their confidence grew
They used half-time wisely, focusing on the process and outlining specifics to change; they recognized the need to be patient, read the defense, stay composed, and execute the coach’s plan
They made an effort to stay composed and level-headed in the second half, especially as they started to dominate the game, understanding that the tide of a game can change at any moment
When asked if this win gives them confidence that they can go on to beat more teams in the tournament, UMBC player, Joe Sherburne, responded that they go into every game with the confidence that they can win, so even though the win feels great, it doesn’t change their outlook. They’re focused on another big challenge on Sunday against Kansas State.
Stay tuned to see what they can do.