One thing I learned in sports was to never say never. Even when a Big Ten School hadn't beaten a ranked SEC opponent on the road, or when the reigning cotton bowl champs came into town, you couldn't say it. Doesn't matter who you are playing nor the circumstance, one shouldn't concede to defeat until the last whistle blows.

The NCAA tournament is indicative of this mantra every year, with upset after upset, but last night was proof. Only 3.4 percent of ESPN Tournament Challenge brackets picked University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) to beat #1 overall seed Virginia. In the 33 years of the 64-team format, a 1 seed hadn’t lost in the first round. UMBC didn't say never, though.

The Maryland school won its conference’s bid in late-game heroic fashion just seven days ago and thus the Cinderella story began. The ‘Retrievers’ caught fire, shot its way into the round of 64 and didn’t stop shooting it last night. UMBC is playing in its second NCAA basketball tournament, after competing as a 15 seed in 2008. So no, they haven't ever done this before—no one had. But history was still on their side.

Prior to 2008, the United States had never elected a Black President. Before 2017, NASCAR had never seen a Black female tire changer. Like UMBC, in order to make history, Barack Obama and Brehanna Daniels never said never. Although teams in its position were 0-135, UMBC didn't give up hope or simply play for its pride. Instead, the school that is a pioneer in producing black STEM graduates, continues to make history both on and off the court, and something tells me Baltimore County isn’t done yet.

-AJ II

 

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