Most of us didn’t think this article would ever come. But here we are. Syracuse takes on Michigan State today at 2:40 PM. And there isn’t a lot of confidence from our staff going into this one.
Logan Grossman: Michigan State 74, Syracuse 59
It has been a fun run for the Orange but it seems all too likely that it comes to an end Sunday. The Orange have been able to stymy two high powered offenses in their first two tournament games but the Spartans have too many weapons for the Orange to deal with. In their first round game, Michigan State used 11 players in the first half. We all know that Syracuse is running between a six and seven man rotation. Of course, what makes March Madness great is the unexpected. Just don’t expect it.
Tyler Aki: Michigan State 79, Syracuse 66
This one is going to be close for about 37 minutes of game time. But in the end, the Spartans are playing a home game. In the team’s opening round matchup against Bucknell, Little Caesars Arena was packed to the brim in green. Can you imagine what the place will be like against an ACTUAL basketball school? Regardless of that, the Orange has its hands full in the frontcourt. Miles Bridges is one of the best players in the country and will get Paschal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe in foul trouble. As great as Marek Dolezaj has been this tournament, if SU is forced to go small early then it will be a long afternoon. Nick Ward, Matthew Moyer’s cousin, is also a dominant post presence for Sparty. I haven’t even mentioned Jaren Jackson Jr. yet. He’s a potential top 5 pick in June and has the potential to torch the Orange from the high post with passing and scoring. Think of him as a much better scoring, but not as sharp of a passing version of Theo Pinson. With all the hoopla surrounding Duke as the nation’s most talented team, you could certainly say MSU is right on its tail. The only way Syracuse can have a chance behind enemy lines is by holding the Spartans under 60 or getting 60 from Tyus Battle, Oshae Brissett and Frank Howard.
Drew Carter:¬†Michigan State 75, Syracuse 58
This is pretty simple. I’m picking the Spartans for two reasons: 1) I think they’re the best team in the country, and 2) I want to hit the reverse jinx for the third round in a row. Michigan State tops the nation in assists per game and rebounds about as well as any other school ‚Äî a combination that spells big trouble for a zone defense. I said the same thing about TCU, but the Horned Frogs don’t boast half as much talent as the Spartans do. Tom Izzo’s group wins this game, and wins the national championship.
David Edelstein: Michigan State 74, Syracuse 62¬†
Michigan State has been a powerhouse all season long, and it will not be a¬†surprise when the Spartans take the win over the Orange. In an impressive 30 win season,¬†MSU only had¬†four losses, each of which came against a ranked opponent or one that would be ranked by the end of the season (Duke, Michigan  and Ohio State).¬†All five of MSU’s starters score in double digits, and that’s something not even Syracuse’s great¬†defense at its best can damper. And while Michigan State may lack scoring depth beyond those five, their substitutions are solid on defense, providing a challenge to any team. Syracuse will need to play one of its base games of the year to pull out an upset, which is¬†something that seems highly unlikely to happen.
JD Raucci: Michigan State 72, Syracuse 60¬†
Up to this point in the tournament, SU has yet to face a team with a bona fide superstar. Tra Holder was a great player for Arizona State, but nothing he does really jumps off the page. As for TCU, the Horned Frogs top player and former four-star recruit Jaylen Fisher didn’t even see the floor because of knee surgery earlier in the season. That ability to avoid facing teams with superstars has helped the Orange out, but it ends in Sunday afternoon’s matchup with Michigan State. The Spartans have not one, but two studs manning their frontcourt in freshman Jaren Jackson Jr. (9th overall recruit in the class of 2017) and sophomore Miles Bridges (8th overall recruit in the class of 2016). Both guys average over 12 points per game and both are incredibly talented on both sides of the ball. Last year’s Big Ten Rookie of the Year, Bridges is a dynamic scorer that shoot it from distance and take the ball to the basket with ease. He’s adept at finishing through contact and can score in so many ways that it becomes difficult to lock him down. Meanwhile, Jackson won this year’s Big Ten Rookie of the Year Award and was also named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman. At 6-foot-10 Jackson is a skilled shot blocker on the defensive end that can guard just about anybody because of his quickness and athleticism. On the offensive end, he stretches the floor about as good as anybody in the country because of his ability to score with his back to the basket as well as his fantastic three-point percentage (39%). Jackson and Bridges will help to over-extend the zone and leave Syracuse ball-watching so even when they aren’t scoring, they’ll be able to find open teammates for easy buckets. In the end, I think the combination of Jackson and Bridges is unlike anything SU has seen in the tournament thus far and the streak of keeping opponents under 60 points stops with the Spartans and the frontcourt phenoms are the reason why SU’s run comes to an end in Detroit on Sunday.¬†
Jonathon Hoppe: Michigan State 78,¬†Syracuse 61
Ok, I was wrong about the TCU game. SU struggled to score like usual, but was somehow able to knock off a talented Horned Frogs team. That won‚Äôt happen again on Sunday. There‚Äôs simply too much talent on this Michigan State roster for Syracuse to have a chance to win. Even though the Orange is 2-0 so far in the tourney, Frank Howard, Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett still haven‚Äôt gotten hot in the same game. If the Orange wants to have a shot to win this one, that almost definitely has to happen. It‚Äôs been a great ride Syracuse fans.