Cuse Mich St

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Michigan State

March Madness



Once again, Syracuse barely got into the Tournament yet is making a run through teams that can’t Scoreon its zone. Nothing is guaranteed in March Madness and that includes anyone that plays Syracuse. Michigan State is playing in Detroit so it will have that edge in addition to a number of shooters that can beat a zone. The Spartans were -8 point favorites for Sunday’s Game at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

The Spartans haven’t seen a ton of true zone defenses this season so it’s unclear how things will go against Syracuse. Of course, they still have great offensive numbers including 41 percent as a team from deep to go with one of the better offensive rebounding rates in the country. Both of those are key when playing the Orange, especially the rebounding numbers because it’s hard to box out with a zone.

Syracuse hasn’t done many exciting things this season and that’s why it barely made the Tournament. They have no elite wins on the resume and whenever faced against top teams, they usually struggled. The Orange lost by 16 to Kansas, couldn’t Scoreenough in two meetings with Virginia and didn’t have enough against teams like UNC and Duke. It’s logical to say that Michigan State is in the same category as all of those teams and Tom Izzo is usually at his best in the second Game of the weekend.

To beat the zone, the Spartans have a number of ways to go. With their starting lineup, they can use Jaren Jackson at the top of the key and he either shoot from the stripe, set up teammates or take it to the hole. He’s a likely lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft and the Orange will have trouble dealing with him. If the Spartans go small, Miles Bridges could move into that spot and it’d be the same situation. If that works out, efficient shooters like Cassius Winston, Josh LAngford and Matt McQuaid can knockdown shots from deep.

Of course, it’s not as easy as that. Syracuse is here because of its length and that will be problematic for guys like Winston and LAngford on the perimeter. The Orange have a huge team with point guard Frank Howard the shortest one on the cOurt at 6-foot-5. That length always takes getting used to and TCU figured that out after scoring just 52 points against them on Friday.

The other end is where the problems come about for Syracuse. OUtside of offensive rebounding, it doesn’t really do anything well and rates as one of the worst in the country in terms of efficient field goal percentage. That’ll have to change in this one. Howard and Tyus Battle have a lot of size and that’s what they’ll have to use to their advantage. If they rely on shooting threes, that simply won’t work in this Game.

Michigan State will have trouble dealing with the length of Syracuse, although can match up at almost every spot. Nick Ward and Gavin SChilling can deal with any of the bigs, while Jaren Jackson has the length to defend Oshae Brissett or Marek Dolezaj. And those guys may have size on Bridges, but it’s hard to say any of them will be able to Scoreconsistently on the sophomore.

As long as the Spartans can break the zone, they should win this Game. But nothing is ever that easy against Syracuse and if you haven’t seen a zone as lengthy as this one, there will be problems along the way, which is why the Scorecould stay close throughout.

Our Pick – Syracuse +8