MTSU embraces new role in NCAA Tournament

Photo: WKRN

MILWAUKEE (WKRN) – Last year Middle Tennessee was America’s favorite Cinderella in the NCAA Tournament after shocking Michigan State.

The Blue Raiders are not eyeing a repeat according to freshman Tyrik Dixon, “We don’t consider ourselves a Cinderella, because we know what we are capable of.”

They shocked a Tournament favorite and followed it up with 30 wins this season and the third highest winning percentage in college hoops behind only top seeds Gonzaga and Villanova.

Senior JaCorey Williams said they are not sneaking up on anyone, “Everybody knew we was coming this year, there’s no surprise this year. I’m just happy people recognize our talent, who we are, and people believe we have the chance to win some games.”

Photo: WKRN

The five versus 12 matchup is famous for upsets in the tourney and the Blue Raiders are popular pick to be so just that against Minnesota.

Maybe a little too popular. Middle Tennessee head coach Kermit Davis knows the Golden Goohers are hearing all of the upset talk, “Yeah, Richard [Pitino] is loving all of the publicity, I promise you that! The Golden Gophers, oh, we are going to get their very best shot!”

And he’s absolutely right. Pitino was eager to praise the Blue Raiders and embrace the role of the overlooked team saying, “We’re excited about being the underdog, been the underdog all year!”

MTSU guard Ed Simpson says whoever wins will earn it, “This has not really turned into an upset game, it’s turned into one of those games it’s just going to be a good game whoever wins.”

MTSU and Minnesota play at 3 p.m. Thursday in Milwaukee. The winner advances to play either Butler or Winthrop.