clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NCAA Tournament Friday Night Thoughts: The Michigan State Spartans stunned by Middle Tennessee in First Round

Middle Tennessee embodied the role of bracket buster on Friday by taking down the Michigan State Spartans.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

What's that sound? Are you having trouble hearing it? If you listen very closely, that is the sound of brackets around the country being ripped up as the Michigan State Spartans failed to take care of business against Middle Tennessee State.

Saying it was an upset is saying the very least. The Spartans entered the tournament as the Big Ten Tournament champions and the top 2-seed in the field. Heading into the contest, Michigan State was a 17-point favorite and a favorite among many brackets to cut the nets in Houston. it was a busy and exciting day around the conference, so let's get into some thoughts around the Big Ten.

1. Michigan State didn't look ready from the start.

It's unlike a Tom Izzo coached team to not be ready to play in March, but when the Spartans got down 15-2 in the early stages of their tilt against MTSU, it was evident they weren't ready to compete. Watching the body language of the Spartan players, it looked as if they were a bit shell shocked and nervous in the moment. Perhaps that's the case, as many expected at least a Final Four appearance.

The Spartans rallied back to make it a close game in the second half thanks to the combination of sharpshooter Bryn Forbes and senior Matt Costello - the duo combined for 27 of the team's first 29 points. It seemed as if Middle Tennessee was able to drive and attack the Spartans whenever they pleased, especially in the second half. Not only were they able to get points in the lane, but the Blue Raiders shot admirably from the perimeter with a 57.9 percent clip from distance. The Spartans somehow won the battle on the boards, even though it seemed as if they couldn't clean the glass in the second half.

An illustrious career for Denzel Valentine came to a close after the senior finished with 13 points, 12 assists and six rebounds.

2. Iowa could be in the process of obtaining their midseason groove again.

The road to Houston is a tough one for the Hawkeyes, as they were faced with a tough, gritty Temple squad which took Iowa to overtime before falling 72-70. Iowa star Jarrod Uthoff had an impressive 23 points, but shot an abysmal 7-for-21 from the field.

The Hawkeyes struggled towards the end of the season, and not knowing which Iowa squad was set to embark on the NCAA tournament made it uneasy moving them far along in the bracket. A big reason why the Hawkeyes are so dangerous is because of the team averages 38 percent 3-point shooting . Primary perimeter shooting catalyst Peter Jok struggled from distance against Temple, as he shot an underwhelming 3-for-10. A key stat in Iowa's victory was the Hawkeyes only having three total turnovers

3.Maryland should never go without Melo Trimble at the end of games ever again.

This was another one of those dreaded 5/12-seed matchups that could have featured the underdog moving on to the round of 32. I felt as if I was in the minority, but the matchup didn't sit well with me in the favor of Maryland. The Jackrabbits entered the game with a 6-9 freshman who can score in a variety of ways. South Dakota  State also featured a solid approach to team rebounding and dangerous 3-point shooting team.

The Terrapins got out to a comfortable lead in the first half, but an impressive 24-6 run by the Jackrabbits made it a grind it out victory for the Terps. Sophomore point guard Melo Trimble picked up his fifth foul with 1:03 left, and luckily, that was just enough time for Maryland to squeak out of there with a win.

4. Wisconsin grinded out one of the ugliest victories imaginable.

Watching Wisconsin take on Pittsburgh, it felt as if I was watching a high school state championship game. The competition was fierce and the environment tense due to the close game, but the quality of play was lackluster for most of the game. Both teams struggled to score throughout the early goings of the first half - the halftime score ended up being Pittsburgh 22, Wisconsin 16.

Vitto Brown's ability to extend his shooting range to the 3-point line throughout the season has been extremely impressive. Watching him in the non-conference is seemingly night and day with his confidence and range. It goes without saying the Badgers need to step up their scoring output on Sunday, but if Brown can consistently step away and knock down 3-pointers, the Badgers could be primed for a sweet-16 spot.

5. Michigan is putting up a valiant effort against Notre Dame.

At the time of typing this - 10:49 p.m. ET - the Wolverines were leading the Fighting Irish 34-29 with 1:36 left in the first half. Michigan is coming off a First Four victory against Tulsa, but the experienced guard play of Notre Dame was projected by many to abruptly end their postseason. Michigan was shooting 50 percent from distance en route to a 41-29 halftime lead. If the Wolverines are hitting half of their 3-point attempts, not many opposing programs would walk away victorious.