10 SYR vs. 15 MTSU
Time: 5:10 Central (TNT)
Spread: SYR -6
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
Syracuse got by No. 7 seeded Dayton 70-51, but it may face a tougher challenge in the potential-Cinderella Middle Tennessee State University. The Orange face the No. 15 seed today at 5:10 Central on TNT.
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Syracuse finished the regular season 19-13 with a middling 9th place finish in the ACC. The Orange rallied big against Dayton behind a big game from guard Michael Richardson who had 21 points on 5 of 12 shooting including 3 of 8 from three-point range to lead Syracuse.
The Orange put three other starters in double figures, and 6’8” junior forward Tyler Robinson had a particularly big night on the glass, snatching 18 boards to go with his 10 points. Robinson averaged a humble eight points and eight rebounds per game this season, but he can have his nights on the glass. He had 11 boards in a 75-70 loss to UNC on Feb 29, and the Orange need his presence inside.
Syracuse’s leading scorer Michael Gbinije did not have a good game in the opener. He led Syracuse with 17.6 points per game this season but shot just 3 of 11 from the field for 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists. He closed the season strong, despite Syracuse’s late-season struggles. In the final three losses to Pittsburgh, FSU and UNC, he shot 23 of 46 (50 percent) from the field while scoring 20.6 points per game over those three games.
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Prior to that, Gbinije had a 34 point night which featured eight made threes in a 75-66 defeat of NC State on Feb 27. The Orange need Gbinije active and involved. If he puts up another dud it might not be enough for the Orange, even against a No. 15 seed. NCAA oddsmakers favor Syracuse by six points, so perhaps not many are expecting Gbinije to come out flat. Orange fans hope not.
Middle Tennessee State University is the school that destroyed brackets nationwide when it knocked off No. 2 seeded Michigan State 90-81 in the Round of 64. It was only the eighth 15 over 2 upset in the history of the tournament, and the Blue Raiders won rather easily. The Raiders led by six at the half, and out-paced Michigan in the second half, having no problem scoring as the defense was somewhat stunned it seemed.
All five MTSU starters reached double-figures, led by 6’7” junior forward Reggie Upshaw who had 21 points on 8 of 14 shooting (3 of 6 three-pointers) while also grabbing four boards and dishing four assists. He came up with three blocks and a steal as well, helping MTSU force the Spartans into a lot of tough looks. He has scored 22 points or more in three of the last five games, and he had a standout game against Charlotte on Mar 10 when he shot 10 of 20 from the floor en route to 27 points and nine rebounds.
Leading scorer Giddy Potts also came up big for the Blue Raiders. The 6’2” sophomore guard averaged 15.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting 49.6 percent from the field and 50.7 percent from three on 5.6 attempts per night. He is a lights out shooter and he was 6 of 10 from the field against MSU while connecting on 3 of 5 from behind the arc.
If Potts and Upshaw are able to get their offense going in this one, MTSU could be the Cinderella darlings many may be hoping they are at this point. But it is not to get ahead of ourselves: at this point it is just a team that shocked the nation with a big victory.
Further substantiation begins tonight.