Photo by Sarah Grace Taylor // Managing Editor
Middle Tennessee junior forward Reggie Upshaw took a collective breath and raised his arms to the Scottrade Center ceiling.
The upset was complete.
The No. 15 seed Blue Raiders had just sealed one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history, knocking off the two-seeded Michigan State Spartans, 90-81.
The shocking victory was due in large part to Upshaw, who had a phenomenal stat line of 21 points (8-of-14 shooting), four rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
“Whenever you see a team like Michigan State, you hear a lot about them throughout the course of the year,” Upshaw said. “But, you can’t let that psych you out. A lot of the guys were still focused mentally. So, whenever you see people picking Michigan State before we even started to play the game, I think it added a little motivation.”
Most experts picked Michigan State to win the NCAA tournament before getting past MTSU, which added fuel for Upshaw and the Blue Raiders.
But, there was a more important motivating factor for Upshaw.
“It’s probably one of the best moments I’ve been able to share with my dad and my brother… going through my athletic career,” Upshaw explained. “For them to drive all the way up here, seven hours, it really meant a lot just to see them in the crowd.”
Following the win over MSU, Upshaw went into the locker room, but came back out and hugged his family and friends in the crowd.
“I could tell once we started playing, once we jumped out, and after we actually won, I could just tell that they were all proud of what I’ve accomplished and what my teammates have accomplished,” Upshaw added.
Along with Upshaw and MTSU pulling out a monumental win in front of numerous friends and family members, the current team is living up to their own expectations.
Before Upshaw came to the Blue Raiders in the 2013-14 season, MTSU made the NCAA tournament in a play-in game against St. Mary’s in 2013.
Now, Upshaw and the Blue Raiders are using that team as a measuring stick headed into a Round-of-32 matchup against Syracuse this Sunday.
“We’ve heard a lot about the 2012-13 team and how they made it to the play-in game against St. Mary’s,” Upshaw said. “So in the back of our heads we’re always thinking about trying to be a little better than that team. And to just be able to share this moment and celebrate such a big win, it definitely takes the number one spot as far as achievements.”
To contact Sports Editor Connor Grott, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Connor_Grott.