What exactly is UMBC?

UMBC just Virginia in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. The Retrievers are the first No. 16 seed to ever upset a No. 1 seed, and they’re now an incredible part of sports history. Here’s a super quick primer on UMBC:

So wait, what the heck is UMBC?

UMBC stands for University of Maryland Baltimore County. It’s located in Baltimore, Md. It’s total enrollment: 11,234 undergrad, 2,428 graduate students as of fall 2017.

So is it the same as the University of Maryland?

No, it’s a separate school under the same state university system. University of Maryland College Park is the state flagship school. Like how UNC-Greensboro is separate from UNC Chapel Hill. The latter has the famous basketball program, while the former also made it into the tournament this season, but is already out after losing to Gonzaga. Maryland’s College Park campus won the 2002 National Championship and now plays in the Big Ten. You’ve probably heard of the Terps, but you’d be forgiven for not knowing about UMBC.

Is UMBC’s basketball program actually good?

I mean… not particularly. The Retrievers had seven straight single-digit-win seasons from 2009-10 to 2015-16 before Ryan Odom took over as coach. He’s turned things around big-time in his short tenure in Baltimore.

From The Baltimore Sun:

“He’s done an incredible job,” said  ESPN college basketball analyst  Seth Greenberg, who gave Odom his start in coaching as a graduate assistant at South Florida and later hired him as an assistant at  Virginia Tech. “He took a group of players and got them to believe. That’s the hardest thing to do. When people are used to losing, creating a vision and getting people to buy in to a vision and share the vision and trust the vision and trust you as a new coach … is not easy. But he’s genuine. He’s sincere. He’s believable.”

Even if the No. 16 seed Retrievers’ season ends, as expected, on Friday night in Charlotte, N.C. — nearly 97 percent of the brackets in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge have them losing to top overall seed Virginia in the first round — the work Odom has done already has revealed itself.

It was not easy. When Tim Hall was named UMBC’s athletic director in July 2013, the program was in bad shape. The previous coach, Randy Monroe, had followed the Retrievers’ first-ever Division I NCAA tournament appearance, in 2008, with four straight losing seasons. Thomas, Monroe’s successor and a hire of former AD Dr. Charles Brown’s, had months earlier completed an eight-win debut season. Three more years of single-digit wins later, Thomas was gone, too.

It was a rough road for the Retrievers, and they weren’t really “amazing” for much of this season. They went 12-4 in the America East, which is fine but certainly not amazing. UMBC lost to Stony Brook, which ranks 230th in the nation on KenPom’s analytics rankings, less than a month ago!

Is UMBC’s mascot/logo good?

Definitely.

What else should I know about UMBC?

There are things that, big picture, definitely matter more about UMBC. But for know, I think all you need to know is that UMBC basketball’s Twitter account is not to be messed with.

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