The Gophers most certainly drew a tough matchup in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Middle Tennessee State has an number of things going for them and have very quickly become the trendy upset pick in most everyone’s bracket.
We all know that almost every year there is a 12 over 5 upset. And this matchup of number 5 Minnesota and number 12 Middle Tennessee State is the one everybody is looking at as the most likely.
And why not, I guess. The Blue Raiders were a 15-seed a year ago and managed to knock of Michigan State in what was one of the biggest upsets of the 2016 Tourney. So they have Tourney experience, they are a much better team this year and are facing a team that is universally considered over-seeded. Their two leading scorers from that Michigan State game (Reggie Upshaw and Giddy Potts) return and have added Arkansas transfer JaCorey Williams who is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder this year.
Seems like a lock right? Well that’s what everyone seems to think.
Lets take a look around the interwebs and the experts.
Has us losing in their South Region preview.
Pretenders who will be bounced early despite favorable seeds: Minnesota. The fifth-seeded Gophers had a remarkable turnaround, bouncing from 23 losses last year to 24 victories this year and vaulting Richard Pitino from hot seat to Big Ten Coach of the Year. But they drew the best of the 12 seeds in Middle Tennessee. The Gophers also lost 3-point specialist Akeem Springs for the rest of the season during the Big Ten tournament.
ESPN’s Myron Medcalf
This is a shocker, but Myron is picking MTSU in his bold predictions for the Tourney.
Without injured guard Akeem Springs (9.5 PPG, 38 percent from the 3-point line), Minnesota won't find enough offense in a tight, opening-round loss to a Middle Tennessee squad that rarely commits turnovers and connects on 37 percent of its 3-pointers.
This one hurts guys, I thought we were family. Not only are we SBN bros, but Mike Rutherford writes for Louisville’s Card Chronicle. That almost makes us like actual family. But here’s what he has to say about the matchup.
The Blue Raiders are much, much better than they were a year ago when they stunned Michigan State in this spot, and Minnesota is the token overachiever whose best days are ahead of it.
I guess this isn’t exactly a prediction as much as it is a “watch.” But they clearly love the Blue Raiders.
Upset watch: No. 12 Middle Tennessee State over No. 5 Minnesota
Don’t expect a huge point spread in this game, as Middle Tennessee is one of the country’s best mid-major teams. The Blue Raiders added Arkansas transfer JaCorey Williams (17.3 points per game) to an already loaded team that includes star junior Giddy Potts (15.8 ppg) and senior Reggie Upshaw (14.5 ppg). Those veterans led Middle Tennessee to a stunning upset over No. 2 Michigan State last year. There’s no doubt that this team is better, which gives the Blue Raiders all the ingredients to pull another NCAA tournament upset.
Minnesota’s lack of NCAA tournament experience and coach Richard Pitino’s first trip to the dance make this matchup the region’s most compelling game. It would be hard to consider it a huge upset if Middle Tennessee wins.
Sportsline Computer Simulator
Even the computers hate us and we are the one team called out in this article
They ran thousands of simulations this year to come up with the perfect 2017 NCAA Tournament bracket, and find out which teams will pull off the biggest upsets and found among the upsets that Minnesota is poised for a first-round ouster. Click the link below to get the full results of the sim.
Three out of Five CBS experts, including Jerry Palm (who’s probably just ticked cause he got our seed so wrong), have MTSU.
Though to be fair, Dennis Dodd has us in the Sweet 16 so he is my new favorite.
We now have most of the major sports outlets covered and all of them have the Gophers losing. FoxSports is no exception and has MTSU as one of 7 teams who will ruin your bracket.
We alluded to the Blue Raiders’ upset of Michigan State last year. The scary thing is that Kermit Davis’ club is even better in 2017. They enter the tournament as a team everyone has wanted to avoid for weeks, coming off a 30-4 regular season with 21 wins in their last 22 games.
Not only is Middle Tennessee State capable of beating Minnesota in Round 1, but the Butler/Winthrop winner in the second round. Do not be surprised to see this team in the Sweet 16.
So there you have it. Everybody is picking us to lose. Maybe I should cancel my trip to Milwaukee.