No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee shocks No. 2 Michigan State in huge upset

Middle Tennessee, a team with very few quality wins on the season, was slotted as a 15-seed in the NCAA Tournament after surviving a crazy Conference USA title game to win the league’s automatic bid. The Blue Raiders had not played a team like No. 2 seed Michigan State yet this season, but they showed from the opening tip they were the team most ready to play in a 90-81 upset victory in St. Louis.

How big was the Blue Raiders’ upset?

The Spartans were thought by many to have deserved a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and were a popular choice to win the national title. Michigan State was the national champion in 23.5 percent of CBS Sports brackets while 42 percent had the Spartans playing in the national title game. Also, 64.6 percent of CBS Sports brackets had Michigan State making it to the Final Four.

After the loss, there were no perfect CBS Sports brackets remaining.

The Spartans never led, falling behind 15-2 in the first minutes and never fully recovered against a Middle Tennessee team that burned the nets down — not literally, but there were net issues that caused delays in the final minutes — with 57.9 percent (11-for-19) 3-point shooting.

Reggie Upshaw Jr. had a tremendous Conference USA tournament and he followed it up with a fearless performance against the Spartans. It was only appropriate that he seal the 90-81 win with a fast break dunk.

Middle Tennessee is one of the worst free throw-shooting teams in the country, but it won both the Conference USA title game and Friday’s first round game against Michigan State at the line. It was an improbable upset against a team that many experts had projected to be Final Four bound, but Kermit Davis, Reggie Upshaw and the rest of the Blue Raiders aren’t turning back.

Middle Tennessee plays Syracuse in the second round on Sunday.

Middle Tennessee was tough on Michigan State's Denzel Valentine. (USATSI)
Middle Tennessee was tough on Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine. (USATSI)

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