In perhaps the biggest first-round upset in NCAA tournament history, No.15-seed Middle Tennessee State defeated No.2-seed Michigan State on Friday at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, 90-81. The Spartans, favored by 18 points in the matchup, entered the tournament as the top favorite to win the national championship.
The Blue Raiders are the eighth No.2 seed in history to win a tournament game, and they did so by leading for almost the entire 40 minutes. Middle Tennessee State jumped out to a 15-2 lead and never looked back. The Spartans cut the lead to one point with 3:34 remaining, but the Blue Raiders pulled away to advance to a second-round meeting with Syracuse on Sunday.
Reggie Upshaw led Middle Tennessee State with 21 points, converting three of his six shots from behind the arc. The Blue Raiders made 11-19 three-point attempts, connecting on 55.9 percent of their field goals.
Michigan State isn’t the first No.2 seed to be upended in their first tournament game, but their loss might be the most shocking. The Spartans entered the tournament with the best championship odds of all 68 teams, and many experts picked them to win the title.
Michigan State (29-6) finished the season as the No. 2 team in the nation, while Middle Tennesse State (25-9) was unranked for the entire season while never playing a ranked school.
Florida Gulf Coast was the last No.15 seed to win an NCAA Tournament game, doing so in 2013. They became the only No.15 seed in history to reach the Sweet 16.
The last time Michigan State didn't advance to the Sweet 16 was in 2010-2011. Under head coach Tom Izzo, the Spartans have reached the NCAA Tournament in 19 consecutive seasons. This is the fifth time Michigan State has failed to advance past the first round under Izzo, who has reached the Final Four seven times and has won one title.