What The Hell Just Happened to Michigan State?!
Michigan State’s basketball season is over two weekends and five games earlier than most experts and certainly Spartan fans, players and coaches expected.
MSU fell victim to the upset bug, losing to 15th-seeded Middle Tennessee State 90-81. Not only did the Spartans lose, they never led–not even for a single second.
It’s just the eighth time a No. 2 seed has lost to a No. 15 seed in the NCAA tournament. Ever.
And it has to be the worst NCAA tournament loss Michigan State has suffered in school history (worse even than the Spartans’ first-round exit to 14th-seeded Weber State in 1995).
MSU had been 7-0 in NCAA tournament opening games as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed.
So how did it happen?
Middle Tennessee State opened up the game on a 15-2 run. The Blue Raiders didn’t miss a shot until their seventh attempt. That’s a big hole to climb out of.
MSU allowed MTSU to shoot 56 percent from the field on Friday. The Spartans also yielded 58 percent from beyond the arc.
You don’t win many games letting your opponent shoot like that. Especially when that opponent is comfortable and used to winning games that way.
The Spartans wound up winning the battle of the boards 30-28, but Middle Tennessee State will count that as a win. In fact, the Blue Raiders were outrebounding MSU at halftime.
MTSU also corralled more offensive boards, 10-8.
The Spartans coughed the ball up 14 times to just 10 from MTSU. Yuck.
Michigan State committed nine more fouls than MTSU, 22-13. And while the Blue Raiders outscored the Spartans 13-10 from the foul stripe, it could have been much worse if not for MTSU’s woeful free-throw shooting (62 percent).
Poise (Or Lack Thereof)
But maybe the biggest determining factor into Friday’s stunning upset was the way the two teams played. One of the two played with guts, energy and excitement, looking like a team geared up for a big NCAA tournament run.
That team was not Michigan State.
Middle Tennessee State rose to the occasion and was biggest in big moments down the stretch. The Spartans turned the ball over several times while within striking distance during the final minutes with the game in the balance.