The Gophers drew trouble with this first-round matchup against Middle Tennessee.
Just ask Michigan State. Or ask one of the millions who picked Michigan State to win last year's NCAA basketball tournament, only to trash their brackets when 15th-seeded Middle Tennessee immediately bounced the second-seeded Spartans.
After pulling one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history, the Blue Raiders came back even stronger this season. Their two best players returned, and JaCorey Williams, a 6-8 forward who transferred from Arkansas, emerged as Conference USA player of the year.
Fifteenth-year coach Kermit Davis saw his team blossom, going 30-4, including 17-1 in Conference USA.
Add it up, and it's no wonder CBS analyst Seth Davis instantly predicted another Middle Tennessee upset as soon as the bracket was unveiled, with the No. 12-seeded Blue Raiders facing the fifth-seeded Gophers. Davis said he even likes the Blue Raiders' chances of getting to the Sweet 16.
"We're excited," Middle Tennessee senior forward Reggie Upshaw told GoBlueRaiders.com. "Every year you see a 12-5 upset, and to have that 12 seed, we know the history behind it."
Upshaw scored 21 points against Michigan State last year in St. Louis. Giddy Potts, now a junior guard, had 19. The Blue Raiders opened up a 15-2 lead and never trailed in that 90-81 victory.
"I'll be honest with you, in my wildest dreams I didn't think they'd hit some of the shots they hit," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said last March. "The good news is we got beat by a team that played better than us."
It marked the eighth time in tournament history a No. 15 seed had upset a No. 2. The tournament still hasn't had a 16 seed knock off a No. 1.
That 15-over-2 upset resonated because so many people had Michigan State winning it all. According to Las Vegas oddsmakers, the Spartans had the second-best chance of winning the tournament behind Kansas.
Middle Tennessee fans were disappointed the next game, when the Blue Raiders fell apart in the second half of a 75-50 loss to 10th-seeded Syracuse, which advanced to the Final Four.
The Blue Raiders still need to prove themselves. Their strength of schedule ranks 151st in the nation. They beat UNC-Wilmington and Vanderbilt, but they also lost to UTEP, Georgia State and Tennessee State.
Now they'll face Minnesota for the first time since 2011-12, when the Gophers beat them in the NIT quarterfinals.
"[The Gophers] had one of the most remarkable turnarounds in college basketball this year," Davis told GoBlueRaiders.com. "I have a lot of respect for the Big Ten, so we know we'll have our hands full."