Why the MTSU hype?
No. 12 seed Middle Tennessee is a popular pick to upset the fifth-seeded Gophers, and here’s why:
They’re hot: The Blue Raiders have won 20 of their past 21 games.
Tourney cred: As a No. 15 seed, Middle Tennessee pulled off one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history last year, ending No. 2 seed Michigan State’s national title hopes early.
Junior guard Giddy Potts and senior forward Reggie Upshaw, key players in that game, are back.
Star player: JaCorey Williams, who transferred from Arkansas, is a 6-8 handful for opponents.
Conference USA’s MVP is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder.
Not afraid: Vanderbilt is a No. 9 seed in the NCAA tournament. MTSU beat Vandy by 23 in the regular season, proving its ability to run with the big schools wasn’t a one-time thing.