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2016 NCAA Tournament: Just What in The Hell is a Middle Tennessee Blue Raider?

Let's get to know our surprise second-round opponent.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Teams: Syracuse Orange (20-13 vs. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (25-9)

Day & Time: Sunday, March 20, 2015 at 6:10 p.m. EST

Arena: Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Mo

Line -6, Syracuse


Announcers: Brian Anderson, Steve Smith, Dana Jacobson

Radio: TK99, WAER

MTSU BlogMid-Major Madness

Rivalry: 0-0

Current Streak: N/A.

Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (40th Year, 986-346), MTSU: Kermit Davis (14th Year, 259-159)

Curious Connections: The closest the two schools have ever come to playing was probably in 1987 when they were both in the East Regional. MTSU lost in the first round as a 12-seed so that was that.

Mascot: The Blue Raider, a term The nickname 'Blue Raiders' was coined by an MTSU football player, Charles Sarver, in a 1934 Daily News Journal school naming contest. He later admitted to "borrowing" the name from Colgate (once known as the "Red Raiders"). He won $5.

Last Year: The Blue Raiders finished 19-17 and qualified for the CIT, losing in the first round to Kent State.

This Year: The Raiders finished the season 24-9 (13-5) and won the Conference USA Tournament, earning an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Last Game: In a day full of upsets, none was bigger than MTSU's 90-81 win over Michigan State. It was the Upset That Shredded A Million Brackets. The fact that the Spartans never led is downright shocking.

Coach Bio: The former Mississippi State player has been all over the place in a coaching career that has spanned four decades. After a great stint early in his career at Idaho, he took over Texas A&M but resigned after one disastrous season there. He rebuilt himself back up from there before returning to Idaho for one season, becoming associate head coach at LSU for five years and then taking over the MTSU program in 2002. After a long stretch of being decent, the program took off in 2012 and has played in the postseason in four of the last five years, including two NCAA berths.

"Fear Me, I've Killed Hundreds of Timelords": The Raiders have four guys who score in double figures but sophomore guard Giddy Potts (15.1) and junior forward Reggie Upshaw (14.1) lead the way. Upshaw led the team with 21 points in their MSU upset while Potts followed close behind with 19. Reggie also leads the team with 8.5 rebounds per contest. They're pretty top-heavy scoring wise, with four guys scoring the bulk of the points and everyone else chipping in. If you can take out a couple of them, it opens things up.

If Syracuse Wins: Somehow, the Orange will be off to the Sweet Sixteen and you'll be able to take all of that gravy you were talking about and shove it up your backside.

If Syracuse Loses: It'll feel like a missed opportunity even though this team barely got into the tournament in the first place. Remember what I said about shifting expectations?

Fun Fact: Before Blue Raiders, the school unofficially used to go by the nicknames "Normalites," "Teachers," and "Pedagogues". That's because it was founded as a "normal school," which was a weird name given to teacher colleges.

Fun Fact 2: MTSU's original mascot was Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate General and early leader in the Ku Klux Klan. Today it's a dog. Probably for the best.