In 2018, UMBC pulled off the only win by a No. 16 seed over a No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament history when it toppled Virginia.
Five seasons later, the Retrievers will try for an upset that wouldn’t be as monumental but might be as satisfying on Thursday as they travel 25 miles south to take a swing at Maryland in College Park.
UMBC (9-4) enters on a six-game winning streak, but history is not on its side. Maryland (9-3) has won all 14 games in the series by an average margin of 27.1 points.
The Terps are coming off a 75-45 win last Thursday over Saint Peter’s as Hakim Hart (20 points) and Jahmir Young (14 points) combined to hit 10 0f 12 shots.
Hart’s strong play came in response to a challenge from Maryland coach Kevin Willard after he made 8 of 25 shots, averaging 7.7 points per game, in consecutive losses to Wisconsin, Tennessee and UCLA.
“He is a difference maker,” Willard said. “When he is engaged and playing and going, he just gives us such a different dimension.”
Julian Reese, who averages a team-high 7.2 rebounds per game, was out with a shoulder injury against Saint Peter’s and his status is uncertain for UMBC.
The Retrievers swing back into action after 10 days off. The most encouraging development for UMBC has been the emergence of freshman Dion Brown.
After missing UMBC’s first 10 games as he healed from a torn ACL in February, Brown has scored 33 points in the Retrievers’ last two games, hitting 15 of 19 shots, while not committing a turnover.
With starting point guard Craig Beaudoin II sidelined against Baltimore rival Loyola, Brown came off the bench to score 21 points as the Retrievers came away with a 72-69 victory.
“They were paying a lot of attention to other guys defensively,” Brown said. “And that helped me get a lot of opportunities to get some shots off.”
UMBC followed up with a 78-62 victory over William & Mary in its last outing on Dec. 18 as Jacob Boonyasith tallied 19 points.
The UMBC attack includes Colton Lawrence, who averages a team-high 14.5 points per game, and Matteo Picarelli, who averages 11.8 points per game while hitting 48.7 percent of his 3-point tries.
– Field Level Media