Middle Tennessee St upsets No. 2 seed Michigan State, 90-81

3 Comments

ST. LOUIS (AP) No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee State sent the biggest shock yet through the NCAA Tournament on Friday, knocking off second-seeded Michigan State 90-81 in the first round.

Reggie Upshaw scored 21 points to lead the balanced Blue Raiders (25-9), who shut down player of the year candidate Denzel Valentine. Middle Tennessee never trailed the Spartans (29-6) in one of the biggest upsets since the tournament began seeding teams in 1985.

It was the eighth time a No. 2 seed lost to a No. 15, and first since Florida Gulf Coast beat Georgetown in 2013. The Eagles went on to reach the Sweet 16.

The Blue Raiders will try to do the same against No. 10 seed Syracuse on Sunday.

Michigan State won the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles, and was ranked No. 2 in the country. Even as a second-seed, many picked them as favorites to win the East, in part because of coach Tom Izzo’s postseason history.

Matt Costello matched a career-best with 22 points for the Spartans, but it wasn’t enough to offset Valentine’s miserable afternoon. The senior had 13 points and 12 assists, but he also had six turnovers – one of them coming with the Spartans trailing 79-76 and less than three minutes to go.

Michigan State twice had chances to tie the game after that, but Valentine missed an open 3 from the top of the key, and Bryn Forbes missed another. The Blue Raiders eventually scored on back-to-back runouts to establish some breathing room, then coaxed the final few seconds off the clock.

Giddy Potts added 19 points, and Darnell Harris and Perrin Buford scored 15 apiece, as the Conference USA champion Blue Raiders won their first NCAA Tournament game since 1989.

Not that they haven’t made a statement before: They beat Kentucky in the first round in 1982.

They never seemed intimidated by the Spartans. They roared to a 15-2 leading in the opening minutes to silence what Michigan State fans were in the building, then slowly got Syracuse and Dayton fans on their side.

Michigan State never managed to draw even throughout the first half. Valentine was saddled with two fouls and rendered ineffective, and the backcourt of Forbes and Eron Harris combined for four turnovers while managing a single point.

Valentine’s frustration reached its apex after he committed back-to-back turnovers in the second half. During a stoppage in play and with the Blue Raiders leading 51-43, Valentine stalked back to his team’s huddle and proceeded to slam his hand into the floor.

Michigan State slowly trimmed the lead to 65-64 on a basket by Costello with eight minutes to play, but the Blue Raiders scored on their next six trips down floor to hold their lead.

They held onto it the rest of the way, too. It was the first time the Spartans, heavily favored to reach the Final Four, were bounced from the tournament in the first round since 2011.

TIP-INS

Middle Tennessee State: The Blue Raiders have won seven straight. … Potts, who led the nation in 3-point field-goal percentage, was 3 for 5 from beyond the arc. … Upshaw was 8 of 14 from the field.

Michigan State: Forbes finished with 14 points. Harris had nine points and five turnovers. … The Spartans reached the national title game the last time they were No. 2 seeds, winning the championship in 1979 and finishing second in 2009. … The Spartans had won 13 of their last 14.

UP NEXT

Middle Tennessee State plays the Orange on Sunday.

8-team GCI Great Alaska Shootout field announced

Weber State's Jeremy Senglin breaks through a pack of Northern Colorado players during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Ogden, Utah. Weber State defeated Northern Colorado 85-68. (Benjamin Zack/Standard-Examiner via AP)
Benjamin Zack/Standard-Examiner via AP
Leave a comment

Friday afternoon another in-season tournament released its completed bracket for its event, with the GCI Great Alaska Shootout revealing the eight teams that will make the trek to Anchorage in November. The field includes two teams that reached the 2016 NCAA tournament in Iona and Weber State, and another team in Nevada that has the look of a contender in the Mountain West in 2016-17.

Joining those three teams in the GCI Great Alaska Shootout will be hosts Alaska-Anchorage, Buffalo, Oakland, UC Davis and Drake. The Shootout begins Wednesday, November 23, with the championship game scheduled for Saturday, November 26.

The match-ups in the top half of the bracket are Buffalo vs. Alaska-Anchorage and Oakland vs. Nevada, with those games scheduled for Wednesday night. On Thursday, UC Davis will take on Weber State and Iona matches up with Drake in the other quarterfinal contests. Each team will play three games in Anchorage, and there are also three on-campus games as part of the event.

While Buffalo and Oakland will host non-Division I opponents prior to their trip to Anchorage, Nevada will host Iona November 20 in Reno.

Ole Miss 2016 commitment ruled ineligible by SEC, back on the market

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 12:  Billy Kennedy the head coach of the Texas A&M Aggies gives instructions to his team in the game against the LSU Tigers during the semifinals of the SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 12, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Ole Miss lost a junior college big man to a ruling by the SEC as Tyrek Coger will no longer be heading to another school.

A Class of 2016 recruit who averaged 12.2 points and 7.0 rebounds last season for Cape Fear Community College can’t go to Ole Miss due to an SEC rule that makes juco transfers be enrolled at their previous schools for at least three semesters as a full-time student. Coger only had a full course load for two semesters, as he maintains that family issues prevented him from being full-time before.

From Eric Detweiler of the Star News Daily.

Ole Miss expected to be able to get a waiver for the Raleigh native because he was dealing with two deaths in the family around the time of his transfer to CFCC from Eastern Florida State College. That appeal was officially denied by the conference Monday.

Detweiler’s story goes on to note that Coger is down to Charlotte, Cincinnati, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Rutgers.

Overall, not a great ruling for Ole Miss, especially in the middle of June, because it will be tough for them to find an adequate replacement for Coger at this point before the season. It’ll be interesting to see where Coger ends up, because he could be a solid rotation big man and good depth for the team getting him.

Coach K has had four surgeries this offseason before USA Basketball commitments

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: United States coach Mike Krzyzewski speaks to players during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match against Nigeria on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on August 2, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Getty Images
2 Comments

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is getting ready to coach in the Olympics of the third and final time this offseason as he’s dealing with a depleted roster that is banged up or scared of Zika.

Coach K has also been through a lot with his own health this offseason, as a report from Luke Decock of The News and Observer says that the Hall of Famer is recovering from four separate offseason surgeries. After planned surgeries for a double knee replacement and a hernia operation, Coach K had two unplanned surgeries on his left ankle in a 16-day span within the last two weeks. The Duke coach is still in a walking boot and expects to be fully recovered by the time the Olympics begin in August.

“It’s been a good spring to get better,” Krzyzewski said in the report. “My knee replacement has gone unbelievably well. My rehab could not be better. My hernia surgery, unbelievable. Never pain. The ankle has had some complications. I didn’t know I was going to have to do that but it needed to be done. … That was fairly intense. But it’s worked.”

Coach K also has plenty to say about the state of the American team entering the 2016 Olympics in Brazil including his thoughts on LeBron James choosing to sit out this summer.

For a 69-year-old coach to recover this quickly during an offseason for a commitment like this shows how much it means to Krzyzewski, especially in his final Olympics before he hands it over to Gregg Popovich. The final roster for USA Basketball is going to look very different than the core group of the last few trips, but they’ll still be favored for gold this summer.

USA Basketball moves to 2-0 in FIBA U17 World Championship with win over Turkey

Men's U17 trials head shots and team photo on 6.11.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
Leave a comment

The USA Basketball U17 team is trying to win another gold in the FIBA World Championships this summer and the group earned another blowout win with a 84-66 final score over Turkey in group play.

Class of 2017 guard Collin Sexton led a balanced American effort in Spain with 20 points while Marquette incoming freshman guard Markus Howard had 12 points. Class of 2018 big man Cart’Are Gordon had 12 points while Class of 2017 guard Gary Trent Jr. also added 10 points. Five-star 2017 forward Wendell Carter had nine points and 14 rebounds for the Americans. Turkey falls to 1-1 after defeating Egypt in its opener.

The Americans beat Taiwan, 119-45, on Thursday as Kevin Knox led seven double-figure scorers with 15 points.

Next, the Americans play Egypt on June 26 in the final game of group play before the Round of 16 begins on June 28.

This is a very solid start for the Americans in group play as they’ll be heavily favored again on Thursday against Egypt. With a lot of different scoring options, the American attack has been very tough to stop as they’ve been way more athletic and talented than every team they’ve faced so far. The Americans will really be tested once they get out of group play and into the elimination round, where things will become more difficult.

Shooting 30 percent from three-point range shows that the team still has one weakness to work on before the tournament begins. But so far, the USA team is off to a good start in Spain.

N.C. State signs Class of 2016 big man and former SMU commit

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 21:  Head coach Mark Gottfried of the North Carolina State Wolfpack looks on from the bench during the first half against the Villanova Wildcats during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Consol Energy Center on March 21, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

A few days after landing guard Markell Johnson to its Class of 2016 efforts, N.C. State has landed another key piece on Friday afternoon.

The Wolfpack announced that forward Ted Kapita, a former Arkansas signee and SMU recruit, will play in the ACC this season.

The 6-foot-10 Kapita signed with Arkansas as a member of the Class of 2015 but didn’t qualify for school. After rumors of signing with the defunct AmeriLeague, Kapita re-enrolled at DME Academy in the Class of 2016 at SMU. After de-committing from the Mustangs last week, Kapita this week signed with N.C. State.

Kapita gives N.C. State another quality late signee, but it will be interesting to see if the NCAA says anything regarding Kapita’s eligibility after the AmeriLeague incident.

“Ted is a versatile and athletic addition who plays with a high motor, is a relentless defender, and can rebound,” NC State head coach Mark Gottfried said in a release. “He can also stretch defenses with his ability to knock down shots on the perimeter.”

Kapita joins Dennis Smith Jr., Omer Yurtseven, Darius Hicks and Johnson in the N.C. State Class of 2016, which should give the team a major talent upgrade for next season.