The UMBC Twitter Guy Takes You Inside the Hive Mind of an Underdog

Remember that night in March Madness? We all had a No. 16 seed we could believe in. And you’re damn right Zachary Seidel was going to make the most of it. Part of the B/R POWER 50 Shake It Up list.
photo of Zachary SeidelZachary SeidelContributor IJuly 23, 2018

Virginia. Sharpie.

Say what?

The No. 1 seed Cavaliers only had a 5-2 lead over the No. 16 UMBC Retrievers in the first round of the NCAA tournament, but CBS Sports' Seth Davis was already saying the game was over. As the person in charge of the UMBC Athletics Twitter account that night, I fired back.

Frustrated by seven years of watching my now alma mater struggle in basketball, I began replying to his tweets with repeated score updates. I didn't know how long I would do it, but the game remained close.

While tweeting, all I could think about was the tough road UMBC took to get to this moment.

From 2009-10 through 2015-16, the Retrievers won only 41 games. Prior to this past season, they had won only one conference tournament in 31 years and made one NCAA tournament appearance.

Fueled by a buzzer-beating three-pointer against Vermont in the America East tournament championship game, the Retrievers earned their spot in this year's NCAA tournament. They drew Virginia, the nation's top-ranked team, as their first-round opponent.

The Retrievers came in as a No. 16 seed, and a No. 16 had never beaten a No. 1 before.

Fast-forward to our squad walking into the arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, where nobody thought we could make history. The only ones who did believe were the coaches and players. That's all that mattered.

When it was tied at the half, we had a glimmer of hope. That's when I started to have some real fun with the social media channels. UMBC was in the national spotlight, and you're damn right I was going to do what I could to make the most of it. 

UMBC Athletics @UMBCAthletics

Virginia leads UMBC 13-10 in a game that is still happening, in fact, there's 7:20 left in the 1st half. https://t.co/vQ4SeT6Roi

I started joking around with people and being even more snarky on Twitter. It must've caught some eyes, because we had roughly 5,400 followers at tipoff Friday night. By Monday morning, we had nearly 111,000, along with a place in college basketball history.

Zach Seidel directs all digital and social media and broadcasts for UMBC Athletics. Follow him on Twitter @SeidelUMBC.

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