Cinderella Lives! UMBC Defeats UVA 74-54

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It has never happened before. It wasn’t supposed to happen ever.  And it certainly was NOT supposed to happen to this UVA team. And not like this. But it did. Little UMBC handed the second glass slipper to the prince and now they can go on to live happily ever after. Well, not quite, but close. 

The University of Maryland Baltimore County defeated No. 1 ranked Virginia and it wasn’t even close.  What made the win so stunning? UVA was utterly outplayed and out-coached and outclassed. It was a sight to see. The group text I sent to my sons long before the end of the game was this: “We’re watching history in the making.” It may well have been the most improbable upset win in sports history.  That’s ALL of sports. 

Yes the score was tied at the half, 21-21. Yes UVA was missing their star freshman guard DeAndre Hunter; and yes, everyone thought UVA would come out in the second half and take over the game. That’s what we thought, but that’s not what UMBC dreamed.  UVA was picked to win it all. Not so. UVA wasn’t just a No. 1 Seed, they were the OVER ALL No. 1 Seed. UVA never got on track and UMBC did. And they ran UVA right out of the gym. They won by 20 points. Twenty points! That wasn’t just a win, it was a beatdown.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County stunned the University of Virginia, 74-54, in the biggest upset in tournament history. The Retrievers were 22.5-point underdogs. Senior guard Jairus Lyles scored 28 points, as the Retrievers blew open a tie game at the half and outscored arguably the best defensive team in the nation 53- 23 after intermission. Before this loss, Virginia was 31-2 on the season and the top overall seed.

For many March Madness fans, the upset also breaks  and busts their brackets. Virginia was the most popular pick to win the tournament in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge.

The tiny Maryland school, which lost to teams such as Colgate, Army and Towson this year, relished the attention.  They believed in each other and listened to their coach, who after the game seemed like he just finished brushing his teeth. Coach, you just defeated a No. 1 Seed!  To him, it seemed like no big deal; he was so calm, cool and collected he had time to speak of the next game and winning that one too.  I like him.  I like this coach a lot.

Now UBMC will live in infamy as the ONLY No. 16 Seed to defeat a No. 1 Seed EVER.  And so, by faith, dreams do indeed come true.

And that’s why we love the madness of March.

A Few of My Favorite Things

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Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things!

Underdogs that win and teams that turn it around and competitors that comeback from the dead. These are a few of my favorite things.

Yes these are a few of my favorite things. The classic song from the classic, 1966 Academy Award winning film “The Sound of Music” cannot be improved upon, but someone should tell Julie Andrews that she can add the NCAA Tournament to the list!

The NC State Wolfpack just defeated the No. 1 Seed Villanova Wildcats to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Talk about sweet surprises. It’s not like the Wolfpack hasn’t been to the Big Dance almost uninvited before. In 1983, Jimmy Valvano and his mass of miracle makers defeated TWO, count ‘em, TWO No. 1 Seeds, Virginia and then Houston, en route to winning the National Championship in the upset win of the ages.

Upsets, comebacks and turnarounds. These are few of my favorite things. Upsets, because everyone loves an underdog. Comebacks, because we’ve all fallen behind and fallen off and fallen down with no hope of getting back up again. And turnarounds are only illegal if they’re committed in defeat. But U-turns and reversal of fortunes are welcome by all those whose feet are going downhill fast and are facing a dead-end.

But some way, somehow, a miracle emerges. Right before our very eyes, the impossible and the improbable incredibly occurs. Our wildest dreams come true and the world is watching in wonder as the Maker of marvels and the Winnower of wonders surprises us with yet another superlative that only He is capable of conjuring up.

NC State Believes

It’s so spiritual. Paul told the church at Ephesus that “you lived in this world without God and without hope.” And that goes for me and you too. We have all had hopeless situations and deflated expectations. But God stepped in just in the nick of time to save the day, and save us too.

A caring coach and passionate players are just a few of my favorite things. NC State’s Mark Gottfried is a good coach. And a good coach is one of my very favorite things. Coach Gottfried hugged and held and embraced and encouraged his players to the point that I would play for him right here and right now. A coach that truly cares and even loves his players and players that respond in kind by winning a tight ball game and triumphing over a tough team is food for the soul. Yes, these are a few of my favorite things.

NC State v Villanova

So add to the list, because “when the dog bites and when the bee stings, and when I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things,” . . .  including an NC State upset win over a No. 1 Villanova, and then I don’t feel so bad!

And the rest of the song goes:

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things!

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eye lashes
Silver white winters that melt into spring
These are a few of my favorite things!

When the dog bites, when the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember
my favorite things
and then I don’t feel so bad!

What Does Winnng Look Like?

 Dayton Flyers

What does winning look like? Winning looks like the Dayton Flyers defeating Ohio State in the first round and deflating the Syracuse Orangemen in the second round. Winning looks like the Dayton team piling on each other at center court after the first big win. Winning looks like Mercer beating Duke in the first round. Winning looks like Kentucky outlasting undefeated Wichita State and Virginia beating Memphis by 18.  Winning looks good, especially when you’re the one winning.

We know what winning looks like and we know what winning doesn’t look like. It doesn’t look like losing; it doesn’t look like long faces of shame or slow paces after the game. We know that losing “sucks;” yet we know that losing is a part of winning just like death is a part of life and just like dying is a part of living. No healthy human wants to die, and no agile athlete wants to lose. We know that everyone who has a hunger for the game wants to win and everyone who has a passion for the same hates to lose.

So what does losing look like? Spiritually speaking, losing is as ugly as 40 miles of bad road. Losing is like having a bad hair day. Losing is gut-wrenching and heart-aching. And so we conclude that losing looks like this: Eve being deceived by the Serpent; Adam and Eve eating of the forbidden fruit; and Cain murdering his brother, and then lying to God about it.

Winning does not look like and does not sound like and does not feel like losing. Unfortunately, losing, Biblically speaking, is found in every life of every legend in the Bible. Abraham, his son, and his sons’s sons were pathological liars. Moses was a murderer and David orchestrated a murder mystery second to none. All of our Heroes of the faith had moral taint and immoral tendencies. And yet they all “won.”

And so we conclude that winning is a spiritual thing. We conclude that we cannot win by ourselves, in and of ourselves. We only win in Christ. We only triumph when we trust; we only subjugate when we surrender, we only rout the enemy when we have been redeemed by our Eternal Friend, Jesus Christ the Righteous.

So remember that wining in Christ doesn’t look like winning in the world. Contrary to the propositions of the prosperity preachers, winning is not necessarily a nice new car and a huge new house. Winning is not necessarily living to gain or life without pain. First and foremost, winning is spiritual. Our victory is our reliance and relationship with Him. No one is perfect and everyone doesn’t win every game. But our victory is found and bound in a life lived to win the pleasure of God and not the applause of men.