HUGE UPSET ALERT: Middle Tennessee TKO’s Michigan State

SONG SELECTION:

The New Pornographers, “Wide Eyes”

From the 2014 release Brill Bruisers from Matador Records

The Blue Raiders sent Gang Green packing and unceremoniously ended the college career of Denzel Valentine with a stunning 90-81 upset of Michigan State in St. Louis.

Middle Tennessee led wire to wire, although Michigan State came very close to tying the game late or going ahead.  Matt Costello matched a career high with 22 points and Valentine managed to get one more double-double compiling 13 points and 12 assists.  But as much as the Blue Raiders initially missed half of their free throw attempts, it was the All-American candidate who coughed up the ball six times.

One turnover happened with the Spartans trailing 79-76 and less than three minutes remained on the clock.  Michigan State had two more chances to tie the game, but Valentine misfired on a wide open 3 from the top of the key, and Bryn Forbes also missed from beyond the arc.

Reggie Upshaw and Giddy Potts helped made the upset possible by scoring 21 and 19 points, respectively.  It is the eighth team since 1991 that a 15 seed has upset a 2, the last coming in 2013 when “Dunk City” of Florida Gulf Coast knocked off Georgetown in Philadelphia.  Darnell Harris and Perrin Buford also chipped in by scoring 15 points each, as the Conference USA tournament champions won their first NCAA Tournament game since 1989.  The Blue Raiders had one other prior statement win in their history–the very first year CBS began televising the Big Dance in 1982 when they knocked off highly regarded Kentucky in the first round.

Both teams did shoot the ball well, at around 55 percent and the rebounding totals were almost even.  In the end, the telling stat was the overall fouls–as Michigan State committed 22 and Middle Tennessee players were whistled for only 13 fouls.

There is no doubt that this upset will be talked about and ESPN Classic will showcase this game for years to come.  This was the worst loss for the Spartans as a Number 2 seed, coming in as runners-up to North Carolina in the 2009 final and thirty years before that led by Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Greg Kelser upended previously undefeated Indiana State led by sharp shooting Larry Bird in college basketball’s highest rated game ever according to Nielsen (when 24.1 percent of TV sets were tuned in to NBC’s compelling coverage at that time).

Long flight across the ocean to the Mainland, no problem says Hawai’i

Just as big an upset but I am sure a lot of victorious luau dancing is taking place on the Island of Honolulu as the Rainbow Warriors, a 13 seed won their first ever NCAA Tournament game in upending the 4 seed of California in the South Region by a final score of 77-66.  Quincy Smith made a career high of 19 points, followed by Roderick Bobbitt with 17 and Stefan Jankovic with 16.  Cal was led by Jordan Mathews, who hit the team’s only three pointers on the day (3 in all) as part of his 23 points.  The Golden Bears missed on 16 of 19 attempts from long distance.

Cal was already behind the eight-ball on two fronts earlier in the week, when news came out concerning assistant coach Yann Hufnagel dismissed by the school due to alleged sexual harassment claims and leading scorer Tyrone Wallace ended up breaking his hand during practice on Wednesday.

Cal only shot 23 of 56 for the game at 41.1 percent, compared to Hawai’i who shot 27 of 52 for a nearly 52 percent clip.  Next up for the Rainbow Warriors, a date with 10 seed Syracuse who sent another higher seed home early disposing of Dayton 70-51.

Last second tip-in rebound bucket at overtime buzzer sends Iowa to second round

The crazy finish of the day came in Brooklyn, as Temple appeared to have come back from a huge deficit against Iowa.  But Iowa made some big plays down the stretch and won the game in the first extra stanza when Mike Gesell missed a simple 10 foot shot along the right baseline.  With three seconds left, it gave just enough time for the ball to land in the soft hands of 7’1″ center Adam Woodberry–whose soft two foot floater bounced at least four times off the rim but let it go just before time expired to give Iowa a hard fought 72-70 overtime win.  Next up for the Hawkeyes is a rough game against an angry group from Villanova, after they easily lambasted UNC Asheville to the tune of an 86-56 whipping to start the Brooklyn pod.

In the other game during the day session…

Another 10 seed emerged into the second round, but this one was not much of a surprise as Will Wade won his first tournament game as Head Coach of VCU after taking over for Shaka Smart.  His VCU Rams came up huge on the defensive end in edging out Oregon State 75-67 in Oklahoma City.

As this blog went to press, Oklahoma was having a battle against first time tourney participant in Cal State Bakersfield with the Sooners leading by a score of 69-63 with 5:18 left to play in regulation.  Also, Maryland has a sizable lead over the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State.

Will even more history be made tonight?

Tonight, the last chance for another year for a 16 seed to knock out a number 1 as Holy Cross gets their shot at the Oregon Ducks in Spokane.  But the games to watch tonight are Notre Dame against Michigan, as the Wolverines try to keep a 5 year Wednesday preliminary First Round winners streak alive and St. Joseph’s tries to keep their magical season alive against Cincinnati in an intriguing 8/9 game.

Hope to see you all later tonight.

 

 

 

 

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