Michigan State Spartans (30-4) vs. Syracuse Orange (22-13)
When and Where: Sunday, March 18, Detroit, Mich., 2.40 PM EST
Another Sunday’s very exciting duel features Michigan State Spartans and Syracuse Orangemen. To be honest, we’re not surprised to see the Spartans In the second round as they’ve been considered one of the favorites since the early start of the season, but Orangemen’ appearance this high is a quite an accomplishment after a 21-13 record prior today. The Spartans took down Bucknell in the first round, 82-78, while the Orange ended the season for TCU, 57-52.
The Orange upset the Horned Frogs
Strong defensive performance and commitment in every aspect of the game helped the Orangemen get past the TCU last night, eliminating the No. 6 seeded team in the Midwest region from No. 11 spot. Syracuse has won the second straight game as an underdog and now everyone must think twice before taking the Orangemen plainly. Both Sun Devils and the Horned Frogs thought they’ll find themselves past their Orange opponents and both of those squads are heading home right now. The squad averages 67.3 points per game on offense (313th nationally) but their main strength comes on the defensive side of the court as they limit their opponents to 64.3 points per contest (14th in the NCAA).
On the individual stat-sheet, three guys are leading the team with guard Tyus Battle on the top with an average of 19.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per matchup. Junior guard Franklin Howard and freshman forward Oshae Brissett follow with 14.9 points each. Howard also leads the team in passing with team-high 4.9 assists while Brissett keeps the defense on spot with team-high 8.9 boards per game. Other notable contributors are Paschal Chukwu with 5.4 and Slovakian native Marek Dolezaj with 5.2 points on average. In a victory over the Horned Frogs, Dolezaj led the team with 17 points while Brissett added 15 points and nine rebounds.
The Spartans cruise past Bucknell
A strong and comfortable win at the beginning of the NCAA Tournament is exactly what the Spartans team needed after an early exit in the Big Ten Tournament and tough loss that was inflicted to them by the State rival, Michigan Wolverines. Still, it’s not the time for relaxation as their next opponent presents a team that has obviously found a formula for taking down the favorites. The team averages 81.0 points per game on offense (38th nationally) while allowing only 64.8 points per contest to their rivals (17th in the NCAA). The fact that the squad limits their opponents to just 36.6% field-goal percentage (best in the NCAA) says enough about the defense the Spartans are playing this season.
Sophomore guard Miles Bridges tops the team in scoring with 16.9 points while adding 6.9 boards and 2.8 assists per game. Four more guys are averaging double figures in scoring as Nick Ward (12.6 ppg), Joshua Langford (11.7 ppg), Cassius Winston (12.6 ppg), and Jaren Jackson Jr. (11.3 ppg) all make their presence known. Ward also collects team-high 7.2 rebounds while Winston records team-high 6.8 assists per contest. In a win over the Bison, Bridges led the team with 29 points and nine rebounds while Langford recorded 22 points. Winston posted a double-double performance with 11 points and 10 assists.
- 6-1 ATS last 7 NCAA Tournament games.
- 4-1 ATS last 5 neutral site games.
- 8-2-1 Under their last 11 Sunday games
- 9-3 Under their last 12 NCAA Tournament games.
- 2-8-2 ATS last 12 following a SU win.
- 1-4 ATS last 5 NCAA Tournament games.
- 4-0 Under their last 4 Sunday games.
Having in mind the fact that this matchup shouldn’t end up in a blow-out, the ATS edge here goes to the Orangemen. Still, I don’t think that they can take out the Spartans straight up. In Totals segment, Under sounds like the right choice because defenses present the forte of both teams.