It was one of the most stunning upsets in NCAA history, and it happened last March. No. 15 Middle Tennessee State knocked off No. 2 Michigan State, 90-81, in the opening round of a wild and crazy NCAA Tournament.
That win wasn’t a one-hit wonder, either. Middle Tennessee State is 25-4, including 15-1 in league play, and won the 2016-17 Conference USA regular-season championship.
In many ways, the win over Sparty put Middle Tennessee State on the map.
“We’re all fighting for branding and national branding, so it was unbelievable for our Middle Tennessee and MT brand nationally,” Middle Tennessee State head coach Kermit Davis said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “And it’s been great for basketball (and our recruiting). Now the hardest thing is sustainability. So we’ve kind of backed it up in a good way, and I think since we’ve backed it up, the national attention has been that much more based on what we did.”
Middle Tennessee State, which has won 15 of its last 16 games, has been led by seniors JaCorey Williams and Reggie Upshaw and junior Giddy Potts. Williams is averaging 17.4 points and 7.5 rebounds, while Upshaw is averaging 14.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Potts, a 6-2 guard, is averaging 15.0 points and shooting 38.0 percent from three-point range.
“We all work like heck to create expectations and we’ve embraced them,” Davis said. “I think our expectations (and the expectations of) our fan base (are) very high – and that’s a good thing because we’re all working to try to create those.”