Blue Raiders to play No. 2 seed Michigan State in NCAA Tournament

MTSU men's basketball team holding the conference USA championship trophy after beating Old Dominion 55-53 on March 12, 2016

March Madness is officially here.

And the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, after winning the C-USA Championship against Old Dominion Saturday, know who, and where, they’ll be playing.

MTSU coach Kermit Davis and the Blue Raiders drew a No. 15 seed and will head west to St. Louis in the hopes of upsetting No. 2 seed Michigan State in the Midwest Region.

The two schools have met only once in history, with MSU pulling out a victory during the 1977-78 season when Earvin “Magic” Johnson was still a member of the Spartans.

Davis and the Blue Raiders expected to earn a No. 13 or 14-seeding in the NCAA Tournament, but instead find themselves taking on the Big Ten champions as a 15-seed.

“We thought we could have been a 13 or a 14… we did,” Davis said. “But, we’re happy to be in the field. We’re going to play an outstanding team and we’ll get to play in a place where our fans can come watch.”

Only seven 15-seeded teams in NCAA Tournament history have pulled off an upset against a No. 2 seed.

Florida Gulf Coast’s cinderella run in 2013 was the last time a 15-seed has pulled off such an upset.

MTSU forward Reggie Upshaw hopes to make it eight.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Upshaw explained. “It’ll be a great matchup and they have great players like Denzel Valentine. But, we have a great team altogether. We’re going in with the mindset of winning.”

The Blue Raiders’ last tournament appearance came in 2013 when MTSU fell against St. Mary’s, 67-54, in a play-in game.

The last automatic bid for MTSU came in the 1989 season when the Blue Raiders became Ohio Valley Conference Champions.

Michigan State’s last tournament appearance, in the 2014-15 season, ended with a trip to the Final Four. The Spartans have made it to at least the Sweet Sixteen in the last four seasons.

Tip off for Friday’s game between MTSU and the Spartans is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. CT at the Scottrade Center.

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To contact Sports Editor Connor Grott, email or follow him on Twitter at @Connor_Grott.

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