The Syracuse Orange return to the Sweet 16 as a double-digit seed for the second time in three years when they face No. 2 Duke on Friday as 11.5-point underdogs.
The matchups for Friday's Midwest Regional semifinals at the CenturyLink Center are set: Top-seeded Kansas will face No. 5 Clemson at 6 p.m., and No. 2 Duke will face No. 11 Syracuse at 8:30 p.m. The Orange were the last at-large team to make the tournament field.
Many believed they stole a spot over more deserving teams, such as Oklahoma State or USC. The Orange reached the Sweet 16 after starting the tournament in the play-in game.
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It has been a rollercoaster season for Cleveland , but they appear on track to reach peak form at the right time. The 59-year-old lifer was previously in charge of the Hawks and Bucks and is well respected in the locker room.
Jim Boeheim's win over Michigan State, though, may be his best coaching performance of the season. Marek Dolezaj has to leap and tip the ball without drawing fouls, and Paschal Chukwu has to secure it with his hands.
So many people get hung up on the idea of never betting against Tom Izzo in March, but Boeheim coached circles around him and with this win, he improved his head-to-head record against Izzo to 5-1. Throughout the second half of the season, Michigan State players answered questions amid the fallout of the school's Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal and about past alleged sexual assault in the men's basketball program.
Izzo complimented his players for how they handled all of that, and said their character made Sunday's loss even more hard.
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Syracuse took the lead with 4:22 left for the first time since it was ahead 14-12. Just two years ago, they made it to the Final Four on the strength of their defense. The entire team was in foul trouble but Syracuse still went to the line twice as often as the Spartans.
I'm not sure how a basketball program can get the death penalty for what Nassar did.
Cassius Winston missed an opportunity to win the game for the Spartans with a shot from about 45 feet just before the buzzer.
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He said if Amnesty had important information, the watchdog should notify a presidential panel set up in the wake of Dapchi to investigate the incident.