The long odds of a No. 16 knocking off a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament were finally overcome on Friday night as the UMBC Retrievers made history, stunning Virginia in one of the most remarkable college basketball games in history.
As the NBA world melted down over the upset just like everyone else, America quickly got to know about the school from Maryland that shocked the country by beating the best defensive team in the nation by 20 points. The school’s athletics Twitter account had a great time with the win, but so did the players afterwards, basking in the glory of their historic accomplishment.
Jairus Lyles was a revelation for the Retrievers, as was 5-foot-8 senior guard K.J. Maura in leading UMBC to one of the all-time great upsets in NCAA Tournament history. While they starred on the court, the quote of the night came from junior Nolan Gerrity in the locker room.
Standing next to Sam Schwietz, Nolan Gerrity was asked to put into words the feeling of beating a top seed for the first time in Men’s Tournament history.
“I’m trying to put it into words,” Gerrity said before someone, perhaps a teammate, off camera suggested it was like the first time you win in Fortnite.
“Yeah, it’s like your first Fortnite victory honestly,” he said.
Fortnite is a survival game in more ways than one, where players are dropped onto an island with an axe and are tasked with quickly building themselves cover from attack while outlasting a group of players to be the ultimate winner. It’s extremely addictive, challenging and oftentimes frustrating. And the odds are certainly long for someone who isn’t as well-adept at the game than others.
But winning despite these odds makes it extremely rewarding, and it’s fitting that the comparison was made. Though the Retrievers did collectively walk it back a bit once it was suggested.
“Y’all are nerds,” freshman forward Brandon Horvath said, laughing and promising that the team is “not this nerdy” overall.
“That may have been a little too far,” Gerrity said, laughing.
Still, it’s been a great week in the spotlight for gaming, especially for Fortnite. Ninja, a popular streamer of the game, had Drake and some “friends” drop in to play with him earlier in the week, drawing a huge audience for the late-night session. And it now turns out that the game inspired, at least in part, one of the greatest upsets in sports history.