The Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee just pulled off the biggest upset of the NCAA Tournament so far, and one of the most stunning victories in the tournament’s history, defeating Michigan State 90–81 in the first round of the Midwest Region. Middle Tennessee has had a fine season, going 24–9 en route to a Conference USA title, but Michigan State was considered one of the strongest teams in the entire tournament. In the last AP rankings on March 14, the Big Ten champion Spartans were ranked second in the nation, behind only Kansas.
Junior forward Reggie Upshaw led the Blue Raiders with 21 points as Middle Tennessee became just the eighth No. 15 seed to defeat a No. 2. Middle Tennessee jumped out to a 15–2 start and, incredibly, knocked off Tom Izzo’s heavily favored Spartans without ever trailing. It’s the fourth-biggest NCAA Tournament upset in terms of point spread in the last 20 years.
Middle Tennessee will next play tenth-seeded Syracuse, which pulled off a more mild upset earlier in the day, in the Round of 32 on Sunday.
This post has been corrected to fix the nickname of Middle Tennessee.