NCAA Basketball Tournament - First Round - Charlotte
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Cinderella has arrived in the NCAA tournament as UMBC shocks the world and pulls off the upset against Virginia.

It had to happen eventually. For the first time in the history of the men’s NCAA Tournament, a 16 seed has knocked off a one seed. UMBC took down Virginia after an offensive flurry marked by big shot after big shot. At halftime, the Retrievers were tied with the top-ranked Cavaliers at 21.

But the second half was a much different story. UMBC outscored UVA by 20 points in the second half and would go on to win 74-54. Eventually, this was bound to happen, but no one could have seen this coming.

UMBC was led by Jairus Lyles’ sparkling offensive performance. Despite fighting through cramps during the second half, Lyles was unconscious offensively. The senior from Silver Spring, Maryland put up a game-high 28 points and he was remarkably efficient. He went 9-for-11 from the field, 3-for-4 from three, and 7-for-9 from the free throw line.

Virginia was one of the best defensive teams in the country all year, but that stifling defense never came out from the locker room for the second half. This season the Cavaliers led Division I in scoring defense, only giving up 53.4 points per game heading into tonight. They gave up 53 points in the second half alone.

There was no fight at all from Virginia down the stretch. They went down by double digits early in the second half and they remained within striking distance until there were about five minutes left in the game. UMBC did to Virginia what many top-ranked teams have done to 16 seeds over the years. They stepped on their throat and ended it. This wasn’t just an upset, this was a dismantling.

Virginia and Tony Bennett suffer an early round exit in a year when many people thought they were poised for a deep tourney run. Bennett is one of the best coaches in college basketball, but the murmurs surrounding his tournament success should get louder. Bennett took UVA to the Elite Eight in 2016 and the Sweet Sixteen in 2014, but in their other four appearances, they have underachieved. Of course, this isn’t to say that Bennett is on the hot seat, but this one will be tough to swallow in Charlottesville.

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