Minnesota did pretty much everything they couldn’t afford to do and Middle Tennessee executed very well en route to a 81-72 upset in the 1st Round of the NCAA Tournament.
Give lots of credit to the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. They came out with a great defensive plan, switching between 1-3-1, 2-3, and man frequently and as a result Minnesota never got fully adjusted on the offensive end. Offensively, MTSU took advantage of foul trouble for Reggie Lynch, uncharacteristically poor defense by the Gophers to shoot over 50% from 3 point range just under 50% from the floor in total.
TURNING POINT: Honestly? When Reggie Lynch picked up 2 fouls in 9 seconds far too early in the first half or when he picked up an incredibly foolish 3rd foul early in the second half. Without him on the floor, Minnesota’s defense slumped badly.
HOT: Reggie Upshaw, senior forward for MTSU. He finished 7-13 (1-3 3pt) from the floor with 19 points. Most importantly for the Blue Raiders, he blunted a big Minnesota run late in the second half when the Gophers had pulled within 6 points.
NOT: The Minnesota Golden Gophers. Basically across the board.
Many will want to call out Nate Mason here and it would be deserved. He finished 2-10 from the floor (1-7 for 3) with no FT attempts. He also had 4 turnovers to 3 assists. By the end of the game though he had a noticeable limp (unsure what happened or when) so that may have had something to do with it.
The whole team’s lack of aggressiveness was also frustrating. It made it difficult for the Gophers to succeed against the zone and it also showed on the glass as MTSU outrebounded them 37-24.
GOOD MOVE: For Minnesota? Not a thing after MTSU got their first points honestly.
For MTSU? Their defensive game plan was fantastic. They deserve a lot of credit for putting Minnesota off balance and taking control for this win.
BAD MOVE: Reggie Lynch’s 3rd foul. It was SO BAD.
This was a horrible way to end a very enjoyable season.