Open for debate is whether Middle Tennessee’s 90-81 victory against Michigan State in this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament is the biggest in March Madness history.
Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis said it was and SI included it in their biggest tournament upsets of the past decade. Meanwhile, analytics showed Norfolk State’s 2012 victory against Missouri to be the biggest tournament upset with MTSU’s No. 2.
Not open for debate — Middle Tennessee’s upset is the sports moment judged the greatest in school history.
Their victory on March 17 was only the seventh time a No. 15 seed beat a No. 2 seed. It was also the first time Michigan State lost in the first round since 2011 and the Blue Raiders’s first NCAA Tournament win since 1989.
“I wouldn’t say we felt disrespected, but we definitely knew that we were better than a 15 seed,” said Reggie Upshaw, who led the Blue Raiders with 21 points. “As you saw, we can really compete with anyone in the nation.”
The Conference USA champions shot 55.9% from the floor, including 57.9% on 3-pointers. All five Middle Tennessee starters recorded double figures, including Giddy Potts (19), Darnell Harris (15), Perrin Buford (15) and Jaqawn Raymond (11).
”Our coach told us if we rebound the ball and get back on defense we’ll have a big chance to win this game,” said Potts, who led the nation in 3 -point shooting (50.6%). ”We played our (butts) off.”
The Blue Raiders jumped on the Spartans early, hitting their first six shots to take a 15-2 lead. Michigan State pulled within one in the second half but never took the lead.
Upshaw put the exclamation point on the game with a pulverizing slam, extending the Blue Raiders’ lead to 83-76 with 40 seconds remaining.
“A great day for our program and our city and our university,” said head coach Kermit Davis.
But not a great day for those who picked Michigan State to reach the Final Four. “A lot of people were mad that we messed everybody’s brackets up,” Upshaw said.
In Murfreesboro, at least, it was all congratulations.
On the cover and above: Reggie Upshaw after a dunk late in Middle Tennessee’s 90-81 victory against Michigan State in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on March 18 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
THIS WEEK’S GREATEST MOMENTS
• Monday: Middle Tennessee and Milwaukee
• Tuesday: Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota State
• Wednesday: Missouri-Kansas City and Morehead State
• Thursday: Murray State and Navy
• Friday: Nebraska Omaha and New Hampshire