The Orange dispatched Michigan State in the round of 32.
No. 11 Syracuse upset No. 3 Michigan State in a brick fight of an NCAA tournament round of 32 game on Sunday in Detroit. The game was a painful slog for anyone who likes offense, but Jim Boeheim’s zone defense flummoxed the Spartans just enough for Cuse to move on. A half-court heave that would’ve won the game for MSU missed at the buzzer.
The Orange are in the Sweet 16 as a double-digit seed for the second time in three years. They also pulled that off during a Final Four run as a 10th seed in 2016, when they lost in a national semifinal to North Carolina. Syracuse doesn’t have a classic Cinderella feel, because the Orange are a power-conference program with a national title this century. But that they’ve advanced this far in otherwise underwhelming seasons is impressive.
Next for the Orange in the tournament’s Midwest Region: a date with No. 2 Duke next weekend in a regional semifinal in Omaha. The Blue Devils secured their spot by rolling over Rhode Island in Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Orange will face their biggest challenge yet on this run, which included one more game than most teams have played. Just to make the round of 64, where they beat TCU, the Orange had to beat Arizona State in the First Four.
The Orange had to beat a much better Michigan State team to get here.
On Sunday, they had to survive an onslaught of MSU offensive rebounds. Michigan State grabbed ____ of those and scored ____ second-chance points, compared to ____ for the Orange. Syracuse shot just ______ on three-pointers. The Orange had a chance to win at the end, though, because of a strong inside scoring day from Oshae Brissett (___ points) and good all-around games by Frank Howard and Tyus Battle, who combined for ______.
Syracuse and Duke played once this season during the ACC schedule. The Blue Devils beat the Orange at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Feb. 24, 60-44. The Orange are a lot better on defense than they are on offense. They’re the only team in the tournament field to have won a game so far scoring fewer than 60 points, and they’ve done it three times. But to beat a Duke team that’s even more skilled than MSU, the Orange will likely have to score more.