The Michigan State Spartans were only a No. 3 seed, but after they compiled an impressive 29-4 regular-season record, they were a trendy pick to win the NCAA Tournament—or at least advance to the Final Four.
The Syracuse Orange, meanwhile, were the last team to receive an at-large bid and very narrowly avoided the National Invitation Tournament.
Their matchup on Sunday proved why filling out a bracket is so impossibly difficult. After being in command for most of the game, Syracuse pulled out a stunning, 55-53 win.
The Spartans struggled to crack Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone. Senior guard Tyus Battle had 17 points for Jim Boeheim’s squad, and forward Oshae Brissett added 15 points and nine rebounds.
Cassius Winston led Michigan State with 15 points. Swingman Miles Bridges, who’s widely considered a first first-round NBA pick, added 11 points and six rebounds, but he shot only 4 for 18 from the field and struggled to find his rhythm. Bridges flirted with turning pro after his freshman campaign but elected to return to East Lansing for a second NCAA go-round. This loss to Syracuse all but certainly marks the end of his college tenure.
Syracuse advances to take on Duke in an 11-versus-2 Sweet 16 matchup. The Blue Devils have played impressive basketball thus far in the NCAA Tournament, and will be heavy favorites heading into the showdown, which will include two of the most respected coaches in college hoops history. The teams will square off this upcoming Friday at a time yet to be determined.
SOURCE: Complex – Aaron Mansfield