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Was Michigan State’s 2016 NCAA tournament exit worst in Big Ten history?

Michigan State took home the Big Ten tournament title and had been one of the hottest teams in the country coming in to the NCAA tournament. It resulted in them earning a No. 2 seed and plenty of people taking them to the Final Four and a national championship.

That was all for naught, as on Friday afternoon the Spartans became part of NCAA tournament lore in a bad way. 15th seeded Middle Tennessee took it to Michigan State and despite a great effort and play by the Spartans, the Blue Raiders simply had more and took home a

It’s led many to call this the worst loss in MSU history at the NCAA tournament. Even worse than a 79-72 loss as a No. 3 seed to Weber State in the 1995 NCAA tournament. At least that Weber State team was 21-9 and 11-3 in the Big Sky conference.

Middle Tennessee may have been the single best No. 15 seed in NCAA tournament history. It finished 13-5 in Conference-USA play, which was good for second, and entered the tournament at 25-9 overall. That’s hardly a team with a resume of a normal 15 seed.

Still, this is a Michigan State squad many believed was primed for a tournament title run and it was a shocking loss. But, is it the worst loss by a Big Ten team in NCAA tournament history?

A few other teams may have a thing or two to say about that.

One thing is clear, you don’t want to be a No. 3 seed and be from the Big Ten. Right from the get-go it was bad news for a No. 3 seed from the conference.

Indiana lost to Cleveland State in a 3-14 matchup in the first season of the field of 64 (1985), going down the Vikings 83-79 in their tournament opener. However, the Vikings went on to the Sweet 16 before bowing out to Navy by a 71-70 scoreline in the East regional. Not exactly like you can hang your head in that kind of a loss.

Another No. 3 seed found itself in trouble, as the 1987 NCAA tournament featured Illinois losing a 68-67 game to No. 14 seed Austin Peay. That Illinois team came in 23-7 and 13-5 in Big Ten play, while Austin Peay were one of the greatest cinderella stories in NCAA tournament history.

The Governors came in to February 10-10 overall, and would go on to nearly run the table straight through to the OVC tournament tile. Austin Peay lost just once the rest of the regular season and came in to the NCAA tournament way hotter than the Illini did.

Iowa continued the Big Ten tradition of horrifying play as the No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament, losing 64-63 to Northwestern State in 2006.

All of these losses have one thing in common — very close results and very underrated teams. One of those things was missing from the case for the Michigan State Spartans on Friday afternoon, and that was the very close result.

Getting worked 90-81 simply was unacceptable, and being the only Big Ten team as a No. 2 seed to be ousted in the first round…you, you my friend have the honor of the worst loss by any Big Ten team in NCAA tournament history.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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