Josh Averbach: The Year of the Upset

by Josh Averbach ’18

The first two rounds of the tournament are in the books. It’s already been a wild ride, full of shocking upsets, busted brackets, heart-attack-inducing finishes, and depressed UVA fans.

As I just alluded to, UMBC (16) defeating UVA (1) was frickin incredible. America watched in utter disbelief as a 16 seed beat a 1 seed by 20 points in the biggest upset in tournament history (although, fun fact, probably not the biggest upset in UVA history: in 1982, a number-one-ranked Virginia squad lost in a regular-season tournament to Chaminade, a Division II school from Hawaii). And this was not the only major upset. Xavier (1) lost to Florida State (9), Michigan State (3) was sent home by Syracuse (11) and Loyola of Chicago (11) beat Tennessee (3). In the South Region (UVA’s), the 1, 2, 3, and 4 seeds have all, improbably, been eliminated.

But for my money, the tournament’s best single moment of the tournament did not come from an upset, but rather it allowed Michigan (3) to avert an upset at the hands of Houston (6). With 3.6 seconds left, Michigan trailed 63-61 and inbounded the ball on their baseline to star senior Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. Rahkman passed the ball to freshman Jordan Poole, who was forced to take a long, contested three. Poole shot the ball like he didn’t expect it to go in; he wildly kicked out his legs and fell down in an effort to draw free-throws, a move of desperation that almost certainly makes a shot more erratic. But it went in, because March.