UMBC Retrievers Basketball: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

UMBC describes itself as a university full of “makers, explorers, doers and dreamers.” As the first No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed in the men’s NCAA tournament, the Retrievers are living up to that description after the No. 1 seed had won the previous 135 matchups.

UMBC’s historic upset almost did not happen as the Retrievers needed a buzzer-beater from Jarius Lyles to secure an automic bid to the tournament. The Retrievers upset No. 1 seeded Vermont in the America East final to advance to March Madness. Tied at 62, the game appeared headed to overtime before this shot by Lyles.

The deeper you dig into UMBC’s season, the Retrievers tournament run looks even more improbable. UMBC lost to Albany in January by 44 points, and weeks later to Vermont by 28 points. Like most teams in a mid-major conference, UMBC needed to win their conference tournament to make it into the NCAA tournament.

The Retrievers shocking win has fans wanting more information on the school, what UMBC stands for and why a retriever is the UMBC mascot.

Heavy has you covered as we explore the university as well as the historic run of the Retrievers basketball team.


1. UMBC Is an Abbreviation For University of Maryland, Baltimore County

According to US News, UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) was founded in 1966, and is billed as an honors university. Here’s how US News described UMBC in its overview of the school.

UMBC bills itself as an honors university, and as such, hosts a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honor society and awards research grants to promising undergraduates, who then present what they’ve studied…With recent national recognition for its diversity, affordability and student mentoring, UMBC has been cited as the #1 up-and-coming “school to watch” and #6 in undergraduate teaching at national universities, and one of the top 5 “most innovated schools” in the nation. UMBC also has been recognized nationally for providing students with outstanding opportunities for undergraduate research and creative projects. The nationally acclaimed Meyerhoff Scholars science program and other outstanding scholars programs in public affairs, arts, humanities, education, and information systems contribute to a community of learners, while the many clubs, arts events, lectures and Division I sports create a lively campus. UMBC is well-known for its undergraduate research initiatives, including financial support for undergraduate research; publication in the UMBC Review; and opportunities to work alongside world-class faculty. With 14,000 students from more than 100 countries, the residential campus is in the heart of the nations political center, 10 minutes from Baltimore and 30 minutes from Washington, DC.


2. Virginia Was Favored by 20.5 Points Over UMBC in the Vegas Odds & Only 2 Percent of Bracket Picks Had UMBC Winning

According to OddsShark, Virginia was favored over UMBC by 20.5 points. Even after UMBC hung with Virginia to make it a tie game at halftime, Virginia was still favored by 12 points in the second half. Not only did UMBC cover the spread, the Retrievers pulled off one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Virginia was the No. 1 overall seed (meaning they were ranked ahead of the other three No. 1 seeds), and UMBC defeated the Cavaliers by 20 points.

Who picked the UMBC upset in their bracket? According to NCAA.com, only 2.18 percent of the 30 million brackets in their bracket challenge correctly picked UMBC to win. There had been growing buzz Penn could give Kansas a run, but the Jayhawks took care of business as expected. Penn upsetting Kansas was the most popular No. 16 seed upset pick at 3.28 percent.

If you believe FAU coach Lane Kiffin, he knew it all along. Kiffin posted a photo on Twitter of the South Region of his bracket which shows he had UMBC not only defeating Virginia, but winning the national championship. It looks like Kiffin picked a lot of upsets as he also projected No. 15 seeds Georgia State and Lipscomb to go far in the tournament.


3. UMBC Is Located in Baltimore With 3 Additional Locations Across Maryland

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GettyFans celebrate during UMBC’s upset of Virginia in the 2018 NCAA tournament.

UMBC’s main campus is located in Baltimore, Maryland. The school also lists three other Maryland locations in Halethorpe, Columbia and Rockville.

According to UMBC, the main campus sits on 500 acres outside Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and is 30 minutes away from Washington D.C. The statement below is the vision of the university.

Our UMBC community redefines excellence in higher education through an inclusive culture that connects innovative teaching and learning, research across disciplines, and civic engagement. We will advance knowledge, economic prosperity, and social justice by welcoming and inspiring inquisitive minds from all backgrounds.


4. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever Is the Official Mascot of UMBC

According to UMBC, the Chesapeake Bay retriever became the official mascot of the university in 1966. The students voted on the retriever over other options like unicorn, angel, muskrat and crab. The school has a statue of a retriever on campus known as True Grit. The costumed mascot of the retriever is also called True Grit, but was initially called Fever the Retriever.

The UMBC website detailed why UMBC is known as the Retrievers.

The official mascot of UMBC is the Chesapeake Bay retriever. Students elected the Chesapeake Bay retriever as the official mascot in the fall of 1966, only weeks into the university’s first official semester. A contest was held in the first issue of the school newspaper, known at the time as “UMBC News” and student Tom Berlin won the contest, nominating the retriever.

An article published in “UMBC Magazine” in September 2015 chronicled the origins of the mascot, bringing up the contest as well the variety of other mascot entries. Ideas such as a unicorn, an angel, a muskrat and a crab were considered. Thank goodness the university didn’t think that the “UMBC Muskrats” had a good ring to it.

UMBC describes some of the key characteristics of a Chesapeake Bay retriever.

The AKC said the characteristics of a Chesapeake Bay retriever, also known as ‘Chessies,’ include being affectionate and bright. It is known historically for hunting waterfowl. The Chesapeake Bay retriever is known for its prowess in rough, icy water.

According to the AKC, Chesapeake Bay retrievers are high energy dogs and are known for their loyalty. The dogs also tend to have a mind of their own and look to forge their own path.

After UMBC upset Virginia in the opening round of the 2018 NCAA tournament, memes of golden retrievers like the one below went viral.


5. UMBC Has an Enrollment of 13,662 Students

For the Fall 2017, the UMBC enrollment was at 13,662. This number includes 11,234 undergraduates along with 2,428 graduate students. For Maryland residents, UMBC’s annual tuition is $11,518, while the non-resident tuition runs $25,654.

Students can choose from 48 majors, 38 minors and 25 certificate programs. There are also 36 master’s degree options along with 24 doctoral programs. According to US News, the school has an acceptance rate of 57 percent. Notable alumni include actress Kathleen Turner, pianist Lafayette Gilchrest and director Brian Dannelly.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the university just unveiled a new $85 million arena where the basketball and volleyball teams play. The new events center seats 5,000 people.

Source: Heavy Sports