BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The University of Maryland Baltimore County men’s basketball team headed to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the first round matchup against Virginia in the NCAA Tournament after a huge sendoff Tuesday afternoon.
It was a celebration before the game as fans, friends, family and faculty cheered, screamed and gave high fives to the American East champions as they boarded the bus headed to the airport.
“It’s an exciting feeling, but we know we have a tough task ahead of us on Friday,” guard Jairus Lyles said.
Lyles — who hit the game-winning shot that put the Retrievers in the big dance — says the team is using the support as motivation.
“It’s really happy, man. It’s good when you can go and people know you, you can finally tell people you’re winning instead of losing,” he said.
“Especially after the last couple of days, it’s been great on campus, everybody is loving us more than ever now. The support is great,” guard K.J. Maura said.
Before heading off, the team got in one final practice.
With a date to the dance with top-seeded Virginia, the team knows they have to be on their A-game.
“I think if we have a good offensive game form the three point line, we have a good chance at beating them,” Maura said.
The team is confident that they have what it takes to become the first No. 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 seed in tournament history.
“We don’t go to the game thinking we’re underdogs anymore, we go to the mindset that we’re going to win the game,” Maura said.
They’ll do so with plenty of support behind them.
The university is giving students the chance to ride down to Charlotte for the game. Find more information here.
The game is set for Friday at 9:20 p.m.