Syracuse was one of the most controversial additions to the NCAA tournament field, getting a No. 10 seed when they were considered by many to be on the wrong side of the bubble entering Selection Sunday, but the Orange proved their doubters wrong in their NCAA tournament debut.
Malachi Richard had 21 points and Tyler Roberson chipped in with 10 points and 18 boards as the Orange cruised past an under-manned No. 7 Dayton team, 70-51.
The Flyers kept things interesting through the first half, but they could not parse their way through the Syracuse zone in the second 20 minutes. Dayton does not have a lot of shooting on their roster, and when that was combined with Kendall Pollard being banged up and an off-night from Dyshawn Pierre and Steve McElvene, this is the result that you get.
The Orange will advance to face No. 2 Michigan State, as long as the Spartans avoid an upset at the hands of No. 15 Middle Tennessee State, and their National Player of the Year, Denzel Valentine. That’s a nightmare matchup for the Orange. Michigan State is, quite literally, the nation’s best three-point shooting team and the only high major program in the country to rank in the top 20 of offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.
That 2-3 zone Syracuse loves?
It gives up offensive rebounds and three-pointers.