Richmond basketball Cayo player dunks during the NCAA tournament first round game.

#SpiderMarch Day 3: Spiders upset Hawkeyes

March 18, 2022


Spider fans hold up a sign that says Roll Spide while watching the NCAA tournament.

Add Iowa to the list of big-name college basketball teams that have underestimated the Richmond Spiders in March. With a first-round win Thursday, our team built on a storied history of NCAA Tournament surprises. Auburn, Indiana, Georgia Tech, Syracuse — they all know how it feels to have their dance cards revoked by Richmond.

The 67-63 Spiders win may be called an upset by the pundits. But for the Spider faithful who have been around these players for the last several years — and especially this last week — it is no surprise. We’ve witnessed the intensity and determination of what many called an improbable run to win the Atlantic 10 Tournament in Washington, D.C., which began for Richmond exactly one week prior to Thursday afternoon’s tip-off.

That same intensity of focus has been evident here in Buffalo. Among the players, there has been a relaxed vibe and a quiet resolve. This is a team that clearly felt proud — even validated — to punch its ticket to March Madness. But it’s also a team that has no intention of becoming complacent or just being happy to be here.  

This team has whipped fans into a full-on frenzy. The Spider Pride that erupted in D.C. flowed south to Richmond and then spread rapidly north to upstate New York. On Thursday in Buffalo, it reached a fevered pitch and washed over every corner of the Spider community.

In a draft house by the KeyBank Center, a crowd of alumni gathered before the game to relive the recent Atlantic 10 championship and share the excitement of the Spiders’ latest NCAA appearance. Greg Dewan, a 2007 grad, took off work and drove in from Syracuse. He says he made a specific effort to get his tickets through the University so he could be with other Spiders.

In the arena stands on Thursday, Spiders fans far eclipsed Hawkeyes fans, in both numbers and ferocity of voice.

Spider Pride also echoed far beyond Buffalo. Alumni came together in watch parties around the country and shared the game-watch experiences across social media. And we celebrated together in the very home of Spiders hoops.

Back in the Robins Center, fans from the RVA community grabbed more than 2000 T-shirts and posters to cheer on the Spiders. Everything from baskets to rebounds to steals caused joyful eruptions rivaling those of a live game. 

When the livestream feed stopped during a commercial, the center grew eerily quiet. The Spiders were on a scoring run, and no one wanted to miss a second. Turns out rain and a direct TV satellite don’t always play well together, but the feed was up and running before the next shot was taken. 

In the final seconds, everyone stood and held their breath. It was the longest five seconds. And then pandemonium as the Spiders knocked off the Hawkeyes. Fans rushed to the floor jumping up and down, dancing, and cheering.

Thursday brought another thrilling milestone in our basketball history, and another great day to be a Spider. Tomorrow brings a day of rest. But Saturday is now game day once again.