David Rosenthal, CBS Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Middle Tennessee State’s win over Michigan State on Friday was one of if not the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history.
Prior to the Blue Raiders improbable upset over the Michigan State Spartans, there had only been seven previous 15 seed vs. 2 seed upsets in the modern era.
15 seed – 2 seed Upsets in NCAA History
2015: Middle Tennessee State defeats Michigan St 90-81
2012: Norfolk State defeats Missouri 86-84
2012: Lehigh defeats Duke 75-70
1997: Coppin State defeats South Carolina 78-65
2013: Florida Gulf Coast defeats Georgetown 78-68
1993: Santa Clara defeats Arizona 64-61
2001: Hampton defeats Iowa State 58-57
1991: Richmond defeats Syracuse 73-69
For those who are lost, in the NCAA Tournament, the committee ranks the 64 teams by seeding them from 1-16.
There are four regions, and one team from each region is assigned a seed before the tournament starts.
West region has teams seeded 1-16, as does the East, etc.
OK, now that everyone understands how the tournament works, let’s discuss why this was such a massive upset.
This Michigan State Spartan team was many experts pick to win the entire NCAA Tournament.
A total of 13.02 million brackets were entered on ESPN this year, and 22 percent of them had the Spartans winning the title.
MSU’s loss is biggest upset in Yahoo’s Tourney bracket history: 98.8 percent (Mich St’s win probability going into the game). Previous record was Norfolk vs. Missouri in 2012: 98.4 percent
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 18, 2016
Michigan State became the highest AP-ranked team to lose its Round of 64 game in tournament history.
The Spartans finished the year at the No. 2 overall ranking in the final AP poll.
People also bet on Michigan State in Las Vegas more than any other team this year, according to the Las Vegas Superbook.
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) March 18, 2016
Middle Tennessee State was a team that did win its conference title (Conference USA) but also suffered nonconference losses to Georgia State, Murray State and South Dakota State.
Not only did the Blue Raiders not beat a ranked team during the regular season, they didn’t even play one.
Let’s look at previous upsets over the past 20 years that compare to Friday’s shocker.
— 2012: Round of 64, Norfolk State Spartans (15) defeat Missouri Tigers (2), 86-84
- Coming into this first-round match up, Missouri was favored to win the game by 21.5 points
— 2013: Round of 64, Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (15) defeat Georgetown Hoya’s (2), 64-63
- Coming into the game, Georgetown was favored to win by 14 points
- PS, if you forgot who this team was, they also go by the name, “Dunk City” Here’s a brief reminder.
— 2005: Round of 64, Bucknell Bison (14) defeat the Kansas Jayhawks (3), 64-63
- Kansas was a 13 point favorite coming into the game
— 2014: Round of 64, Mercer Bears (14) defeat the Duke Blue Devils (3), 78-71
- Duke was a 13 point favorite coming into the game.
— 2006: Elite 8, George Mason (11) defeats UCONN (1), 86-84
Along with Friday’s incredible upset, these are my five biggest upsets in NCAA history.
It is impossible to rank them, so I am not going to bother, because they are each fantastic in their own way.
These upsets define the NCAA Tournament and are why the tournament is nicknamed March Madness.
When March comes, truly anyone can win, no matter the point spread, no matter the seed, and no matter the team.
2015: Georgia St. (14) defeats Baylor (3), 57-56
2015: UAB (14) defeats Iowa State (3), 60-59
2012: Lehigh (15) defeats Duke (2), 75-70
2011: VCU (11) defeats Kansas (1), 71,61