NCAA

UMBC's NCAA Tournament hopes end vs. Kansas State, but its Cinderella run was unforgettable

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USA TODAY Sports

UMBC's NCAA Tournament hopes end vs. Kansas State, but its Cinderella run was unforgettable

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — UMBC's improbable run through the NCAA Tournament was brief. The statement the Retrievers made and their place in history is forever.

For one weekend in March, the tiny commuter school from Baltimore known for its academics and championship-winning chess team captured the hearts of the college basketball world and beyond. UMBC became the first No. 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 in March Madness, a victory over Virginia that made the Retrievers the ultimate Cinderella.

The fairytale came to an end Sunday night in a 50-43 loss to No. 9 Kansas State -- heartbreaking because it was a game UMBC could have won, but still satisfying because the Retrievers touched so many people by accomplishing what many thought was impossible.

"We put our name on the map. We gave hope to teams that come to the tournament with lower seeds," said senior guard K.J. Maura. "I think we gave hope to guys that are not even that tall like me. People that feel like they are underdogs in their life, I think we gave hope to everything they want to do in life."

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Stephen Curry noticed the team and sent UMBC the sneakers the team wore against Kansas State. The Golden State Warriors had his Curry 5s, which are in limited release, and other swag sent to the team. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams declared the Retrievers "Surgeon General approved" and posted a photo of himself on Facebook wearing a sweatshirt from his alma mater.

NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers tweeted to UMBC guard Joe Sherburne, who claims to be Rodgers' biggest fan. And for a team addicted to the video game "Fortnite," their dreams were made when Ninja, a popular gamer who recently played against rapper Drake and JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers, FaceTimed with the team early Sunday.

"They play with passion, they play with heart, they play together," coach Ryan Odom said. "We do things together for one another, and obviously when you have a big win like that (over Virginia) and it's so shocking, you know, people love to see that. They love to see the upset.

"And our guys handled it with grace and understood the circumstances. They weren't pounding their chests or anything. They expected to be here and expected to compete."

When UMBC returned to the locker room following its ouster, Odom had written just one word on the whiteboard. The Retrievers needed a buzzer-beating 3 against Vermont to win their conference title and make the NCAA Tournament, but they showed up believing they could beat Virginia, and the same about Kansas State.

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So Odom simply penned "Proud" on the board for his players.

"Just very proud of these kids and what they've been able to do as the representatives that they are for our university," Odom said. "Just captured our country and beyond, to be honest, from a sporting perspective and it's really, really neat to see."

Sherburne said Odom relayed stories from friends who had texted or called from outside the country to rave about UMBC. Near tears after an 0-for-9 shooting night, Sherburne found consolation in the joy UMBC brought to so many.

"From when we beat Vermont until the last two hours were the greatest time of my life," Sherburne said. "What we did, everyone in here, it's the greatest time of our lives."

Odom arrived at UMBC two years ago and inherited a team accustomed to losing. He told them he was going to get them to .500 that first year; they thought he was joking. But slowly the culture changed and the Retrievers did everything Odom told them they could accomplish.

And then some.

"When I got here, first we were a four-win team that year, and then the next year we went on to win seven games," said graduate student Jairus Lyles. "Then Coach Odom and his staff came in, we won 21 games and this year we had a tremendous season."

Odom doesn't know how far the UMBC program can grow. Those four letters are now synonymous with the biggest upset in college basketball history, but it's a long way from becoming a basketball school.

"UMBC is a unique place -- lot of high achieving kids on campus," Odom said. "We want guys that want to be great from a basketball perspective and want to play after college. But, at the same time, we want folks that are highly motivated academically that want to do great things past basketball. Because the air goes out of the ball at some point for everybody."

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College football AP Top 25 Poll: LSU soars, Virginia Tech stays put

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USA TODAY Sports

College football AP Top 25 Poll: LSU soars, Virginia Tech stays put

LSU surged to No. 6 in The Associated Press college football poll after its second victory of September against a highly ranked team, and Wisconsin tumbled to No. 18 after becoming the first top-10 team to be upset by an unranked team.

Top-ranked Alabama strengthened its hold on No. 1 on Sunday , receiving a season-high 58 first-place votes from the media panel. Clemson slipped out of the No. 2 spot for the first time this season. Georgia moved up a spot to second behind the Crimson Tide, giving the Southeastern Conference the top two teams in the ranking. Clemson is third with three first-place votes, followed by No. 4 Ohio State and No. 5 Oklahoma.

LSU has now gone from No. 25 to start the season to No. 6 in three weeks.

The Tigers beat Miami, the preseason No. 8, in Week 1 in Arlington, Texas, and then knocked off Auburn on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn slipped from No. 7 to No. 9.

Wisconsin's loss to BYU was Saturday's most surprising result. The Badgers were three-touchdown favorites but missed a last-second field goal to tie and lost 24-21 in Madison. The Big Ten had five teams in the top 14 to begin the seasons and three (Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin) have already lost.

BYU's reward was being ranked No. 25.

PAC-12 SLOP

The Big Ten drew a lot of attention for having a rough Saturday, with half the league losing nonconference games. The Pac-12, more specifically the Pac-12 South, also had a rough one -- though much of the damage was done after a lot of East of the Mississippi bedtimes.

Southern California fell out of the ranking after its second straight loss, a thumping at Texas. The Trojans have now been outscored 54-17 the last two weeks. Arizona State also fell from the ranking when it could not back up its nice home win against Michigan State, losing at San Diego State.

Within the conference, Utah was beaten at home by Pac-12 North power No. 10 Washington, thwarting the Utes' chances of being ranked. UCLA dropped to 0-3 under Chip Kelly and Arizona finally managed to get coach Kevin Sumlin a victory -- by beating Southern Utah of the FCS.

Colorado is the lone unbeaten Pac-12 South team. Looks bleak, but just two seasons ago the landscape was similar for the division. After opening-week losses by USC and UCLA to start 2016, the Pac-12 South had no ranked teams. Ultimately, Colorado, the eventual Pac-12 South champ, and Utah moved into the ranking and finished in the Top 25. USC made a late-season surge behind Sam Darnold, too.

UP

The other big mover in the right direction this week was Oklahoma State. The Cowboys jumped nine spots to No. 15 after an impressive 44-21 victory against Boise State, which tumbled out of the rankings after being No. 17.

Oklahoma State began the season unranked after being ranked at the end of the last three seasons.

IN

Three teams moved into the ranking for the first time this season, with Boston College making its return to the Top 25 for the first time since 2008.

The Eagles beat Wake Forest on Thursday night to improve to 3-0 behind a dynamic offense led by running back A.J. Dillon and blossoming quarterback Anthony Brown. BC has not won more than seven games since 2009. The 2008 team won nine and the ACC Atlantic Division but was last ranked on Nov. 30 of that year.

-- No. 22 Texas A&M is ranked for the first time since November 2016.

-- No. 25 BYU is ranked for the first time since September 2015.

CONFERENCE CALL

The SEC has the top two teams in the AP poll for the 23rd time since 2006. Alabama was either No. 1 or 2 in all of those. The conference with the next most 1-2 appearances in the poll since 2006 is the Big Ten with eight.

SEC -- 6.

Big Ten -- 5.

Big 12 -- 4.

ACC -- 4.

Pac-12 -- 3.

Independent -- 2.

American -- 1.

Week 4 College Football AP Top 25

1. Alabama 3-0 (58 votes, no change from last week)

2. Georgia 3-0 (No. 3 last week)

3. Clemson 3-0 (3 votes, No. 2 last week)

4. Ohio State 3-0 (No change from last week)

5. Oklahoma 3-0 (No change from last week)

6. LSU 3-0 (No. 12 last week)

7. Stanford 3-0 (No. 9 last week)

8. Notre Dame 3-0 (No change from last week)

9. Auburn 2-1 (No. 7 last week)

T-10. Penn State 3-0 (No. 11 last week)

T-10. Washington 2-1 (No change from last week)

12. West Virginia 2-0 (No. 14 last week)

13. Virginia Tech 2-0 (No change from last week)

14. Mississippi State 3-0 (No. 16 last week)

15. Oklahoma State 3-0 (No. 24 last week)

16. UCF 2-0 (No. 18 last week)

17. TCU 2-1 (No. 15 last week)

18. Wisconsin 2-1 (No. 6 last week)

19. Michigan 2-1 (No change from last week)

20. Oregon 3-0 (No change from last week)

21. Miami 2-1 (No change from last week)

22. Texas A&M 2-1 (Not ranked last week)

23. Boston College 3-0 (Not ranked last week)

24. Michigan State 1-1 (No. 25 last week)

25. BYU 2-1 (Not ranked last week)

Dropped from the rankings: Boise State, USC, Arizona State

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Week 3 CFB Picks: Trust Vegas, not your head

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USA Today

Week 3 CFB Picks: Trust Vegas, not your head

Every week, the boys in the desert come out with lines on football games.

Every week, we think we can beat Vegas. 

This is your weekly reminder... Las Vegas is smarter than you.

Hawai'i (3-0) at Army (1-1) 

Is that Colt Brennan? No. It's Cole McDonald. Through three games, the Rainbow Warrior QB leads the nation in passing yards and passing touchdowns (13). If you stayed up late on Labor Day weekend, you watched McDonald (and his awesome hair) torch Navy's secondary for 429 yards and six touchdowns. With three wins, Hawai'i has already matched its win total from 2017.

After opening up the season with a 20-point loss at Duke, Army responded by rushing for 449 yards against Liberty en route to a 38-14 victory.

The triple option is always challenging to prepare for but the Rainbow Warriors faced it just two weeks ago.

This seems like a pretty evenly matched game. I think most people would lean towards Hawai'i getting the win.

Wait. What? Army is -7?? How is that possible?

Kickoff is at noon ET on Saturday in West Point, NY. That's 6 a.m. Hawai'i time! The last time Hawai'i played a noon ET kick was in 2016. The result? A 63-3 loss at Michigan.

The play: Army -7

Vanderbilt (2-0) at #8 Notre Dame (2-0)

On Labor Day weekend, Notre Dame impressed the college football world with a 24-17 win over the Mighty Michigan Harbaugh’s. Last Saturday, not as impressive. The Irish needed to recover an onsides kick to ensure a 24-16 victory over Ball State. Yes, you read that right. To ensure a 24-16 victory over Ball State. Notre Dame was a five-touchdown favorite! QB Brandon Wimbush looked quite shaky against the Cardinals throwing three interceptions and no touchdowns. (If you were wondering, Ball State was picked to finish last MAC West Division.)

Vanderbilt hasn’t been really tested yet but the Commodores have been impressive in wins over Middle Tennessee State (35-7) and Nevada (41-10).

Notre Dame is a two-touchdown favorite this Saturday. Why will the Irish win by double digits against Vanderbilt when they haven’t done that in either of the first two games this season?

Two reasons.

  1. ESPN’s Paul Finebaum put Notre Dame on upset watch
  2. US News ranked Vanderbilt (#14) higher than Notre Dame (#18) on their most recent “Top Universities” list

If that isn't enough motivation... I don't know what is?

The Play: Notre Dame -13.5

#12 LSU (2-0) at #7 Auburn (2-0)

Nothing like an early season SEC West showdown.

Both LSU and Auburn followed up impressive Week 1 victories (LSU over Miami, Auburn beat Washington) with blowout wins over FCS opponents.

So doesn’t Auburn -10.5 seem rather high? The public seems to think so. They love the Bayou Bengals to cover.

Let’s try to think this one out.

The home team has won this matchup each of the last five years. Advantage: Auburn

The last two years this game has been decided by less than a touchdown. Advantage: LSU

LSU’s QB Joe Burrow is making his first career road start. Advantage: Auburn

Gus Malzahn wears sweater vests. Advantage: LSU

Ed Orgeron says he has 8-10 energy drinks per day. Advantage: ???

The math seems pretty even. I think it comes down to this…

Vegas knows something we don’t.

The Play: Auburn -10.5

Other games to make money on 

#21 Miami at Toledo (+11.5)

Rutgers (+2.5) at Kansas

Florida State (-3) at Syracuse

Georgia Southern (+31.5) at #2 Clemson

#17 Boise State (+1.5) at #24 Oklahoma State

Missouri at Purdue (+5.5)

New Mexico at New Mexico State (+3)

#10 Washington at Utah (+5)

#23 Arizona State at San Diego State (+5.5)