Gerry Broome/Associated Press
After pulling off the biggest upset in the history of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the UMBC Retrievers will be back on the court Sunday as they face the Kansas State Wildcats in an attempt to advance to the Sweet 16.
The story has legs as the Retrievers (25-10) prepare to play their second-round game Sunday night in Charlotte, North Carolina, at 7:45 p.m ET. The No. 16 seed will somehow have to come down from the high of beating No. 1 seed Virginia 74-54 in the first round of the tournament.
That’s the storyline that even non-college basketball and borderline sports fans are fully aware of right now. UMBC became the first No. 16 team to beat a No. 1 seed since the men’s tournament has been formatted in its current fashion.
UMBC played a game that is almost certain to be remembered for decades in recording its 20-point upset of top-ranked Virginia. Head coach Tony Bennett’s top-ranked Cavaliers were the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament and the best defensive team in the nation, allowing 54 points per game.
UMBC unraveled that Virginia defense by connecting on 12 of 24 three-point shots as it built a lead in the second half and refused to let Virginia eat into it as the game progressed.
The Retrievers were 20.5-point underdogs as they came into the tournament as just an “opponent” that seemed likely to serve as cannon fodder for Virginia. Instead, Jairus Lyles led the Retrievers with 28 points, and his performance was the key to UMBC’s explosive victory. The Retrievers shot 67.9 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes.
Joe Sherburne had 14 points and six rebounds for UMBC, while Arkel Lamar had 12 points and 10 boards, and tiny guard K.J. Maura (listed at 5’8″) had 10 points and three assists.
Somehow, the Retrievers have to realize that the win over Virginia is in the history books, and they have to prepare for the consistent Kansas State Wildcats (23-11).
Bob Leverone/Associated Press
Kansas State defeated Creighton by a 69-59 margin, and the Wildcats have been steeled by playing in the tough Big 12. They finished fourth in the conference with a 10-8 record, three games behind regular-season champion and archrival Kansas.
The Wildcats are led by forward Dean Wade, who averages 16.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, but he is likely to be limited in this game by a foot injury.
Wade did not play against Creighton, but he did say that the injury is getting better. “There’s a possibility [of playing], but I’ve got to be smart about it,” Wade said, per David M. Hale of ESPN.com. “It’s getting better, but I don’t want to rush back too fast and re-hurt it. They’re trying to keep me off it, and there’s times it’s pretty sore, but overall, I think it’s getting better.”
Barry Brown is averaging 16 points for head coach Bruce Weber’s Wildcats and shooting 46 percent from the floor. Xavier Sneed is contributing 10.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per night.
Kansas State is a 10-point favorite to win the game and eliminate UMBC from the NCAA tournament, per OddsShark, and we expect the Wildcats to secure the victory and cover the point spread in this game.
No matter what the result of this game is, the team from Maryland Baltimore County has secured its place in college basketball history.
Here’s a look at Sunday’s full NCAA tournament schedule, as well as selections in each game:
Sunday Schedule, Odds and Selections (All odds courtesy of OddsShark)
No. 2 Purdue -3.5 vs. No. 10 Butler (12:10 p.m., CBS); Purdue
No. 3 Michigan State -9 vs. No. 11 Syracuse (2:40 p.m., CBS); Michigan State
No. 2 North Carolina -6 vs. No. 7 Texas A&M (5:15 p.m., CBS); Texas A&M
No. 2 Cincinnati -8 vs. No. 7 Nevada (6:10 p.m., TNT); Cincinnati
No. 4 Auburn vs. No. 5 Clemson -1 (7:10 p.m., TBS); Auburn
No. 9 Kansas State -10 vs. No. 16 UMBC (7:45 p.m., truTV); Kansas State
No. 1 Xavier -6 vs. No. 9 Florida State (8:40 p.m., TNT); Xavier
No. 5 West Virginia -12.5 vs. No. 13 Marshall (9:40 p.m., TBS); West Virginia*
*- To win game but fail to cover the point spread.
It’s Game Day! @Cuse_MBB takes on Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament; can the Orange pull off another upset? https://t.co/LJOWPmjiS8 https://t.co/I0mdIIL5Aj
Michigan State vs. Syracuse
This is a classic matchup between two of the classic programs in college basketball—and two of the sport’s best-known coaches in Tom Izzo and Jim Boeheim.
The Spartans (30-4) were expected to be one of the top teams in the nation at the start of the season, and they have lived up to expectations, although there was a small lull in the middle of the season.
Michigan State won the Big Ten regular-season title but was eliminated from the conference tournament by eventual champion and archrival Michigan.
The Spartans are led by Miles Bridges, who is averaging 17.3 points and seven rebounds per game, and he is motivated to take Michigan State on a long run in the tournament. Bridges was expected to declare for the NBA draft last year, but after the Spartans were eliminated from the NCAA tournament a year ago by Kansas, Bridges decided to return.
Michigan State gets solid contributions from Cassius Winston and Nick Ward, who are averaging 12.6 and 12.5 points per game, respectively. Joshua Langford and Jaren Jackson Jr. are also averaging in double figures.
Michigan State was pushed hard in defeating Bucknell 82-78 in Friday night’s first-round game.
Syracuse (22-13) defeated Arizona State in its First Four game before upsetting TCU 57-52 in its first-round game. While few give Boeheim’s team much of a shot for putting together a deep run in the tournament, the Orange are playing competitive basketball and don’t seem to be facing much pressure as the last team to earn a selection to the 68-team invitational.
Tyus Battle is a big-time scorer who is averaging 19.3 points per game, but he is a streaky sort who can go cold at any time. He is hitting 40.1 percent of his shots from the field.
Oshae Brissett is averaging 14.9 points and 8.9 rebounds, while Frank Howard is contributing 14.7 points and 4.8 assists per night.
Syracuse will attempt to frustrate Michigan State with its length and zone defense, but Michigan State has the shooters to defeat that strategy.
Boeheim ranks fourth in tournament history with 59 wins, while Izzo has 48 wins and ranks seventh.
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press
Cincinnati vs. Nevada
The Bearcats (31-4) depend on their size and strength to win basketball games, and that could be the telling factor against a smaller Wolf Pack team.
Nevada (28-7) survived and advanced in the tournament with its first-round 87-83 win over Texas, but the Wolf Pack had big problems against big man Mo Bamba. The Bearcats hit the boards like very few other teams, and they are coming off a victory over Georgia State in which they had 20 offensive rebounds. Cincinnati has won eight games in a row.
Expect Cincinnati to follow a similar formula here. The Bearcats are led by Gary Clark and Jacob Evans, who are contributing 12.9 and 12.8 points per game, respectively. Clark is also bringing down 8.7 rebounds per game.
The Wolf Pack are led by Caleb Martin, who is scoring 19.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, while Jordan Caroline is averaging 17.8 points and contributing a team-leading 8.7 rebounds per game. Those two are joined by Cody Martin and Kendall Stephens, who are scoring 13.6 and 13.4 points per game.