Congrats to this years “southern cinderella” team, MTSU, who defeated nightly Michigan State in second round action of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
MURFREESBORO — Almost no students at the Blue Raider Grill said they saw the Middle Tennessee men’s basketball team’s upset win over Michigan State coming.
But junior Michael Pearson thought they had a shot.
“I thought they could,” he said during the second half.
By the time victory became certain for the Blue Raiders, dozens of fans at the Student Union Building stood up and roared every time the Blue Raiders made a basket and each time MTSU stopped the second-seeded Spartans.
The excitement built over the course of the game at the on-campus eatery. While MTSU led the entire game, students gradually got more ecstatic when the Blue Raiders extended their leads and sealed the game late in the second half.
The energy and enthusiasm showed MTSU students had school pride that could match any other school, said Rhyan Austin, an alumnus who came back to the campus diner to cheer on the men’s team.
Compared to schools like the University of Tennessee or other athletics powerhouses, MTSU has gotten a bad rap for not being “a sports school” over the years, Austin said.
“But this definitely proves we are,” Austin said.
The team’s efforts are already enough to get the appreciation of the campus community, said sophomore Jay Kelley.
“When they come back to campus, they’re going to get a round of applause,” Kelley said.
Just off-campus at The Boulevard Bar and Grill on Middle Tennessee Boulevard, fans and alumni were cheering as the Blue Raiders came out on top.
Some were even making travel plans for Sunday. The men’s team is set to play the Syracuse Orange in St. Louis on Sunday.
“I think I’m going to try to go,” said Rick Dixon, a MTSU alum. “I think there are going to be a lot of Michigan State fans selling tickets.”
This article originally appeared in the Daily News Journal.