Sports, Thrill of Victory

MTSU shocks the world with NCAA tournament win over Michigan State

PHOTO BY SARAH GRACE TAYLOR/MTSU SIDELINES

The first round of the NCAA tournament always provides plenty of drama and suspense. It’s what college basketball fans live for.

And while some upsets can be predicted beforehand, others cannot.

It’s safe to say that MTSU’s impossible victory over Michigan State on Friday would fit into the latter category.

MTSU coach Kermit Davis led his team to an unpredictable win over Michigan State in the NCAA tournament. PHOTO COURTESY MTSU ATHLETICS

MTSU coach Kermit Davis led his team to an unpredictable win over Michigan State in the NCAA tournament. PHOTO COURTESY MTSU ATHLETICS

The Spartans were a popular pick to cut down the nets in Houston and win the national championship, but Kermit Davis’ team put a quick end to Michigan State’s title hopes with a shocking 90-81 win in Des Moines.

It was only the eighth time in tournament history that a No. 15 seed dropped a No. 2 seed in the first round, with some calling it the biggest upset that the tournament has ever seen.

There’s some truth to that. Michigan State is the type of team that we’ve come to count on making it far in the Big Dance due to Tom Izzo’s tremendous coaching ability. The Spartans rarely let anyone down, and that’s a big reason why they were a favorite to win it all.

But on the other hand, MTSU isn’t your traditional 15-seed.

Few would argue that the committee didn’t do its best job of properly seeding teams in this year’s tournament. Some teams simply felt out of place from the very beginning, and the Blue Raiders were among that group.

MTSU had an RPI of 77 entering the tournament, which was higher than some of the teams ahead of them in the tournament seeding.

And if you went with the eye test, it seemed clear that a No. 13 or No. 14 seed made a bit more sense for this team.

However, the seeding certainly didn’t matter on Friday. Reggie Upshaw and Giddy Potts got the Blue Raiders going right from the tip, and after a 15-2 run to start the game, you immediately believed that this team had a shot.

Upshaw had a dominant performance with 21 points, while Potts added 19 of his own. The entire starting lineup finished in double figures in scoring, which shows the type of balance that this team has.

Reggie Upshaw helped lead MTSU to a shocking first round win over No. 2 Michigan State. PHOTO COURTESY MTSU ATHLETICS

Reggie Upshaw helped lead MTSU to a shocking first round win over No. 2 Michigan State. PHOTO COURTESY MTSU ATHLETICS

As the game went along, Michigan State would make its run. But each time that happened, MTSU had an answer.

The win definitely shocked a lot of people. All along though, the Blue Raiders knew they had a chance.

Now MTSU will prepare for a suddenly winnable second round game against Syracuse, a team that many felt didn’t belong in the field of 68. But the Orange put together an impressive performance to knock off seventh-seeded Dayton.

Davis could go from leading his team to knocking off an Izzo-led Michigan State squad to knocking off a Jim Boeheim-led Syracuse squad. That wouldn’t be too shabby.

Some have already declared that MTSU’s momentum will run out against the Orange.

The Blue Raiders are fine with hearing that, because they’ve already shown what they can do against a national title contender.

And now they’ll have their chance to do the unthinkable and make a Sweet 16 run for the ages.