Down with the status quo and Giddy up for change.
Let’s be honest. Americans are mad. They want change.
Enough of the status quo. Down with the establishment. And they aren’t waiting until November.
The time is now.
So, thank you, Middle Tennessee State.
The NCAA Tournament opened with a bang Thursday. Middle Tennessee State added the exclamation point Friday afternoon, shocking No. 2 seed Michigan State 90-81 in St. Louis.
You want establishment? Michigan State has Tom Izzo, perhaps the finest college coach around. It has one of the nation’s elite players in Denzel Valentine. Saddled with four fouls, he was never a decisive factor.
Instead, Middle Tennessee State won with a roster unknown outside Metro Nashville and some Conference USA circles. Wasn’t Giddy Potts the sidekick in 1940s Roy Rogers’ westerns? Perrin Buford, I think, was played by Joe Don Baker in the original Walking Tall.
Wait, that was Sheriff Buford Pusser.
Practically neighbors growing up a few miles apart in North Alabama, the duo combined for 34 points against a Spartans team most, including yours truly, had penciled in for the Final Four. In fact, all five Blue Raiders starters scored in double figures, busting a nation’s brackets.
Conference USA is a one-bid league. Middle Tennessee went 13-5 in league play, then earned the NCAA bid by winning the league tournament. Seeded 15th, the Blue Raiders stunned the world, pulling off what was arguably the program’s biggest victory since a first-round upset of Kentucky.
Yet this shocker was merely the latest in a growing number. Eight No. 15 seeds have knocked out No. 2 seeds in NCAA Tournament history. Just a few hours later, No. 14 Stephen F. Austin added a 14-point knockout of No. 3 seed West Virginia. True, not quite as epic, but pretty close.
It was merely a continuance of the madness that began Thursday with 12th seed Arkansas-Little Rock eliminating Purdue, another Big Ten team, and 11th seed Wichita State ousting Arizona. The Wichita State victory came just two nights after a play-in round victory against Vanderbilt and at least two shirts into the wardrobe of Arizona coach Sean Miller, who sweated so profusely his Internet meme instantly went viral.
Down with the establishment. Up with the upsets.
March Madness. And we’re only halfway through the first weekend.
Editor’s note: Morning Ticker welcomes Doug Segrest as a new Featured Author. Segrest is a veteran sports writer who primarily covered college sports and professional baseball at The Nashville Banner and The Birmingham News, where he was named Tennessee and Alabama Sports Writer of the Year. He’s also the co-host of the highly rated “The Zone” talk show.