Two games so far today, two close finishes. We have a major upset in the Midwest Region.
Syracuse, which was one of the last teams into the NCAA Tournament and had to play in the "First Four," just shocked No. 3 seed Michigan State 55-53. It was an improbably victory for the Orange.
From the outset, this game was ugly as sin. Syracuse is limited offensively, but is excellent at making teams play its style. With their 2-3 zone, they are tough to score against, and they forced the Spartans to settle for three-pointers all night.
Michigan State shot a mind-numbing 8-for-37 from beyond the arc. The Spartans didn't make a field goal in the last 5:43.
The insane stats continue. Syracuse had 30 rebounds as a team; Michigan State grabbed 29 offensive rebounds. Syracuse's point guard Frank Howard fouled out with 6:39 to play, and walk-on Braedon Bayer had to play significant minutes. Bayer even had a critical block of MSU star Miles Bridges.
With the win, Syracuse moves on to the Sweet Sixteen on Friday night against ACC rival Duke. The Blue Devils won the only meeting this year between the two teams last month at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
It has become clear over the last couple of seasons that Jim Boeheim might do his best work when his team is an underdog. Syracuse wasn't expected to even be in the tournament, let alone win three games and beat a national title contender.
On the flipside, Michigan State doesn't seem to know how to play as a favorite under Tom Izzo. This loss was a debacle, and then you add the 2016 MTSU upset and a double-digit loss in the Sweet Sixteen as a No. 1 seed in 2012, plus deep tournament runs as a No. 4 seed in 2014 and a No. 7 in 2015, it looks like Sparty is better when it is an underdog as well.
We'll update you on the game time for Syracuse-Duke as soon as details come out.