Middle Tennessee State pulled off one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history on Friday, knocking off Michigan State by the final score of 90-81 in only the eighth ever win by a 15-seed over a No. 2.
While the internet was busy mocking Tom Izzo and the Spartans, the Michigan State seniors came to the sudden realization that their college careers ended in massive disappointment.
One of those seniors is Denzel Valentine, who will go down as one of the great Spartans of all-time and very well could end up as the Naismith Player of the Year this season after averaging 19.4 points per game with more than seven rebounds and seven assists. In short, Valentine did it all for MSU, and although he now has the chance to have a successful NBA career, his final collegiate game will go down as one of the biggest letdowns in the history of the Michigan State program, and Valentine didn’t play well, either, scoring only 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting.
Unsurprisingly, that fact did not sit particularly well with the Michigan State star after the game.
Although the majority of us who are non-Spartan fans were probably pulling for the historic upset (unless you’re one of those that roots only for your bracket), you still have to feel for Valentine and the rest of the MSU seniors. Spartans head coach Tom Izzo was asked by CBS Sports reporter Dana Jacobsen after the game about Valentine and his career, and the future Hall Of Famer couldn’t hold in his emotions, being moved to tears when speaking about how much Valentine meant to his program.
With all of the commotion of March Madness, it’s easy to forget these are real athletes and coaches who worked all season to get their opportunity to shine on the big stage. Whether or not you were rooting for Sparty or are happy to see them go down, it’s tough not to feel something when a coach has that strong of a reaction to the end of a player’s career.