11 GONZ vs 10 SYR
Time: Mar 25, 9:40 PM (ET) – CBS
Spread: GON -4
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Syracuse Orange got by No. 7 Dayton easily in its tourney opener, but No. 15 seeded Middle Tennessee State proved much tougher, and the Orange found itself 1 point underdogs in the game. Syracuse prevailed anyway 75-50 to advance to the Sweet 16 where it will encounter the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Syracuse is 4 point underdogs in the game which will air at 9:40 Eastern on CBS.
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Syracuse got a huge game from its best player, forward Michael Gbinije. He connected on 10 of 14 from the field, including 3 of 7 from downtown, to finish with 23 points, two rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block in 38 minutes of play.
Gbinije struggled in the opening round against Dayton, when he hit just 3 of 11 from the field for 10 points. But he averaged 17.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game this season, while also coming up with two steals a game. He had scored 45 points in the two games prior to the Dayton contest, and he has hit a three in his last 15 games.
Junior forward Tyler Robinson also had a nice night in the win over MTSU. He is a low usage player at 7.0 field goals attempted per game this season, but he shot 52.3 percent from the field and averaged nine points per game. He shot 4 of 5 from the floor and 4 of 4 from the line en route to 12 points, nine rebounds, three assists and a block in 28 minutes of play. Against Dayton, he was huge on the glass with 18 rebounds and 10 points, playing 38 minutes in that game. He led the Orange in rebounding this year with 8.4 per game.
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Malachi Richardson will need to improve. He had just four points on 1 of 7 shooting in the win over MTSU, but in the opening round he had 21 points on 5 of 12 shooting (3 of 8 threes) against Dayton. Richardson shot just 37 percent from the field and 35 percent from three this year, but he attempts 10.8 shots per game. The 6’6” freshman guard also averaged 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game this season.
Gonzaga has dominated thus far in this tournament. The Bulldogs defeated No. 6 Seton Hall 68-52 in the opening round then knocked off the Utah Utes in impressive fashion, winning 82-59 to advance to this matchup against the Orange. Gonzaga led 44-29 at the half and put four starters in double figures in the win. Donatas Sabonis had 19 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block while knocking down 8 of 12 from the field.
Senior guard Eric McClellan also had a big game with 22 points on 9 of 12 shooting, hitting both his threes and coming up with five rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal in 33 minutes of play. McClellan shot just six times in the opening win over Seton Hall, and that is more typical of him given his 7.9 attempts per game on the year. If he is wiling to accept the bigger role, Gonzaga can use his shooting. He knocked down 48 percent from the field this season and 34 percent from three on 2.9 attempts per game.
Six-foot-ten senior forward Kyle Wiltjer is still Gonzaga’s premier player. He hit 7 of 10 from the field in the win over Utah, including 3 of 4 from three-point range. He knocked down 49 percent from the floor this year and 43.2 percent from three.
Wiltjer averaged 20.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, and he has thrived since transferring from Kentucky three seasons ago where he averaged 10.2 points per game as a freshman in the SEC. Wiltjer is a shooter, flat out, even if he struggled against Seton Hall in the opening round where he hit just 5 of 14 from the field.
With Wiltjer, McClellan and Sabonis all firing, Gonzaga should prevail as NCAA tournament oddsmakers at 5dimes project. This will be a close game, but Gonzaga has rolled so far in this tournament and has more weapons than Syracuse even if Gbinije may be the best player on the floor in this game.