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Remember the name: Maryland Baltimore County comes up with the biggest upset in NCAA tournament history

Anyone could have guessed that top-seeded Virginia versus University of Maryland Baltimore County would be a 20-point blowout.

But who would have predicted it would be the biggest upset in the history of the NCAA tournament?

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UMBC — an acronym unfamiliar to most people before Friday night — shocked the college basketball world with a 74-54 victory over Virginia, becoming the first No. 16 seed ever to beat a No. 1.

Princeton, East Tennessee State and Western Carolina all came close. But until this stunner in Charlotte, N.C., No. 16s were 0-135.

The Retrievers had never beaten an Atlantic Coast Conference team.

On Twitter and TNT — it's hard to know exactly who came up with it first — the clever "U Must Be Cinderella" wordplay went viral.

This was an all-time bracket buster, as 18.5% of people who filled out brackets on ESPN.com had Virginia winning it all.

According to one sports book, the Retrievers were 3,000-to-1 to win it all. They barely got into the tournament, needing a basket in the final seconds to get past Vermont, which had beaten them twice earlier.

Among other teams to beat UMBC this season: Albany, Colgate, Towson and Stony Brook, with Albany handing the Retrievers an 83-39 scolding on Jan. 21.

Friday, the teams were deadlocked at halftime, 21-21, before UMBC erupted for 53 points in the second half — against the best defense in college basketball. The Retrievers shot 54.2% from the floor, made 12 of 24 three-pointers (compared to four of 22 by Virginia), and outrebounded the Cavaliers 33-24.

"We got our butts whipped, that wasn't even close," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said in a CBS interview. "That's first a credit to what Ryan did, coach Odom. Their offense was very hard to guard. They shot it well. We kept getting broken down and did a poor job.

"I told our guys, we had a historic season… and then we made history by becoming the first 1-seed to lose."

::

Want to succeed in the NCAA tournament?

Get thee to a nunnery.

Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, a 98-year-old nun and Loyola superfan, celebrates with the team on the court after a 64-62 win against Miami.
Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, a 98-year-old nun and Loyola superfan, celebrates with the team on the court after a 64-62 win against Miami. (Ashley Landis/Dallas Morning News)

Sure seems to be working for 11th-seeded Loyola Chicago, which pulled off the first upset of March Madness on Thursday with a 64-62 win over No. 6 Miami. Loyola's team chaplain is Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, a 98-year-old nun.

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Sister Jean not only leads the Ramblers in prayer, but provides a scouting report before every game.

"She's our comfort blanket," Loyola Chicago coach Porter Moser told USA Today. "She just has so much spirit. She's got an unbelievable energy to her that I connect with."

Was it the Ramblers' impeccable work habits? Their Von Trapping defense? Either way, Miami was nun and done. That toppling set the tone in the South Regional, in which the lower seed won four of the eight games — most notably the upset of Virginia.

Loyola Chicago is one of eight small Catholic colleges in the field of 64, along with Seton Hall, Xavier, Gonzaga, Villanova, Providence, St. Bonaventure, and Iona. Clump all those enrollments together and you'd still be 3,000 seats short of filling the Alamodome, which is playing host to the Final Four.

But one of those schools just might get there, with five of them still alive after the first round. Xavier and Villanova, both No. 1 seeds, advanced with wins over Texas Southern and Radford. Fourth-seeded Gonzaga beat No. 13 North Carolina Greensboro, and No. 8 Seton Hall knocked off No. 9 North Carolina State.

No. 11 St. Bonaventure, which qualified by beating UCLA in a play-in game, was knocked out by No. 6 Florida, No. 10 Providence lost to No. 7 Texas A&M, and No. 15 Iona hung tough with No. 2 Duke before falling off down the stretch in an 89-67 loss.

"They're one heck of a basketball team," Iona coach Tim Cluess said of Duke, which boasts five projected first-round NBA picks. "We tried to throw a lot of things at them, and they responded in a different way."

Duke answered the bell. The Pac-12 did not. With UCLA and Arizona State eliminated in play-in games, and second-place USC left out entirely, the conference's lone hope was No. 4 Arizona. But the Wildcats and their pair of 7-footers were stunned by No. 13 Buffalo, 89-68, after going a frigid two of 18 from beyond the arc. The Bulls made 15 of 30 from three-point range, and will face Kentucky in the second round.

Considering the Pac-12 went 1-8 in bowl games, this has to be one of the worst years ever for a major conference in the two biggest sports.

There were other painful farewells Friday. Isaac Haas, Purdue's 7-foot-2 center, will miss the rest of the tournament with a fractured right elbow. He was hurt when he fell to the ground and landed awkwardly while rebounding in his team's 26-point win over Cal State Fullerton. So the Boilermakers will go to their 7-3 backup center.

Two of the second-round matchups feature teams from the same state. Butler and Purdue are separated by 60 miles of Indiana highway. Marshall and West Virginia are located at opposite ends of their state, 200 miles apart.

In an 82-78 loss to Michigan State, Bucknell forward Zach Thomas fouled out on a technical with six minutes to go. That ended the college career of the Patriot League player of the year, who led the conference in scoring and rebounding this season. What a confounding way to go, all because he flung his arms out wide in frustration when he thought a teammate had been fouled.

Not everyone fizzled down the stretch. Nevada dug its way out of a 14-point hole in the second half against Texas to force overtime, then made all six of its shots in the extra period to win, 87-83, for its first NCAA tournament victory since 2007.

There were plenty of other feel-good stories in the first round, such as No. 13 Marshall picking up its first NCAA tournament win in program history, an 81-75 dunk-fest upset of Wichita State. So overjoyed was Thundering Herd coach Dan D'Antoni, he said he was at a "loss for words" after the game. He was also at a loss for clean shirts, apparently, as he dressed for the occasion by wearing a black Marshall T-shirt under his sports coat.

"We think it looks good, man," guard Jon Elmore said earlier this week, according to NCAA.com. "You see a lot of people crackin' on him, chanting, `Where's your tie?' and stuff like that. But he's comfortable and thinks it's a good look, and we've all accepted it and think it looks good. So more power to him."

This was the time for teams to rise to the occasion, as Texas A&M's Robert Williams did, elevating so high on a windmill dunk against Providence that he brushed his head on the backboard.

That all pales in comparison to what UMBC did, of course. Those guys are walking in the clouds.

Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesfarmer

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