DETROIT – The second round games, before a sellout crowd of 20,060 at Little Caesars Arena were two nail biters. In the end it was Purdue and Syracuse coming out of the Detroit and into the Sweet 16.
Here is a look at the two games beginning with the classic battle between Jim Boeheim and Tom Izzo.
SYRACUSE 55 – MICHIGAN STATE 53
Playing their third game in the last five days, the Orange found a way to win in beating Michigan State in the second round.
Syracuse played on Wednesday night in the First Four games defeating Arizona State. Then on Friday in Detroit, the 11th seed in the Midwest Regional defeated sixth seeded Texas Christian and then on Sunday took down the third seeded Spartans before a crowd of 20,360.
SU becomes the first team since Virginia Commonwealth to win three NCAA Tournament games coming out of the First Four in Dayton and will play Duke on Friday night in Omaha, Nebraska.
“These guys just battled and the whole game.” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “Our defense has been this good the whole tournament. These guys just kept going, they keep battling and we got the win.
Sophomore Tyus Battle led the Orange and all scorers in the contest with 17 points while freshman Oshae Brissett added 15 with nine rebounds, a steal and a blocked shot.
Michigan State (30-5) were led by sophomore Cassius Winston with 15 points and six assists while Mile Bridges added 11 and six rebounds.
‘When you outrebound a team by 21 that averages 6’9” and you get every loose ball. We just got beat because we could not make a shot>” MSU head man Tom Izzo said.
The game was played to the pace of Syracuse and their famous two-three zone defense was a puzzle for Michigan State to figure out the entire game as they missed eight of their first ten shots from the field.
Even with that, the Spartans had the lead for most of the first half holding as much as a three-point lead before the Orange tied the score 22-22 on a three from the left arc by Brisset.
On the final play of the first half, MSU junior McQuad took an off balance three-pointer from the let arc that hit the backboard and went in. Originally, the officials waived off the basket. However they watched the video replay and determined that McQuaid’s shot was released before the clock hit triple zeroes they counted the three and MSU was ahead by three at intermission 25-22.
Along with the zone defense, a trademark of a Boeheim team, was the inability of Bridges to get into the game.
The Sophomore made his only field goal of the half a three from the left arc at the 2;55 mark to give the Spartans a five-point lead 20-15. Bridges scored 29 points in their first round win over Bucknell.
The start of the second half, the Spartans opened their largest lead of the game 52-39 on a slam dunk by freshman Xavier Tillman.
When SU closed to within a point 38-37 the game was really tight with neither team gaining an advantage. Syracuse was getting into foul trouble however they got into the bonus free throw situation late in the half and chipped away at the MSU advantage taking the lead for good 50-48 with 4:08 remaining on a free throw by freshman Bourama Sibande.
The Orange extended their lead to four 52-48 0n a left wing jumper by Brissett which proved to be their final field goal of the game.
The final seconds became a free-throw shooting contest with SU making theirs and surviving a last gasp by MSU to advance to the sweet sixteen.
One of the keys to the game was Michigan State’s dominance of the boards especially on the offensive glass. The Green and White dominated the Orange 51-30 it was counterbalanced however with the Orange maing 24-of-31 free throws.
“It’s tough to play three games in five days at this level against that kind of physicality” Boeheim said. “They got us on the boards about our guys persevered.
Next up for the Orange is a second meeting the season with the Blue Devils who came out of Pittsburgh on a roll in their first two games defeating Iona and Rhode Island.
The Devils defeated SU in their only regular season meeting in Durham 60-44. However this meeting will be in the middle of the country in the Midwest Regional Semifinal.
PURDUE 76- BUTLER 73
The Boilermakers advanced to the Sweet 16 as they fought off a game bunch of Bulldogs for a 76-73 win in the second round game of the East Regional. It was the second time this season these Indiana rivals met however it was the first time in NCAA Tournament play.
Senior Dakota Mattias hit a three-pointer with 14.2 seconds remaining which proved to be the winning margin as Purdue (30-6) held on after the Dogs Kelan Martin hit a put back to make it a two-point game with 2/1 seconds remaining. After senior P. J. Thompson was fouled he missed a free throw.
Butler (21-14) had a chance to tie the game and send it into overtime. They inbounded the ball from their own basket they got the ball to Martin whose desperation three from between the circles rimmed out and Purdue held on to meet Texas Tech in the East Sweet 16 on Friday in Boston.
“It was a tough, grind it out game” Purdue head coach Matt Painter said. “I thought our guys did a good job against Butler’s defense. I thought we did some really good things on the offensive end until the final three minutes but they key to the win was our execution.
Senior Vincent Edwards led the Old Gold and Black with 20 points with four rebounds two assists and a steal, in all four Boilermakers scored in double figures as Thompson had 14, Carsen Edwards had 13 and Mathias had 11.
“It was a heck of a game” Bulldogs head man LaVall Jordan said. “Nobody wants those moments to end. Nobody wants their journey so you fight. Somebody had to advance, and somebody goes home. We had a shot that would have kept us playing but it did not fall.”
Martin, in the final game for the Blue and White, scored a game high 29 points. He leaves the school as the second highest scorer in Butler history with 2,047 points. Sophomore Kamar Baldwin added 14 as they were the only two BU players in double figures.
Butler, who defeated Arkansas in their first round game on Friday, opened an early 13-8 lead on two freeo throws by Mattin. The Dog opened their largest lead of the game 24-15 at the 7:49 mark when Baldwin made a conventional three-point play. Purdue caught the Dogs 28-25 on a pair of free throws by Grady Eifert,
The Boilers outscored Butler 12-8 for the remainder of the half and had a 40-36 lead at intermission,
In the second half, Butler took their final lead of the game 41-30 on a three from the left arc by Martin.
From there until the final moments Purdue held the lkead as they used a 10-4 run to take a seven-point lead 52-45 with 14:23 remaining on a driving layup by junior Ryan Cline.
Butler then went on a 7-0 spurt to tie the game 45-45 on a jumper from the right wing by freshman Aaron Thompson.
After Purdue regained the lead it fluctuated between two and eight points. After the Boilers too ka 10-point lead at 70-60 with 6:21 remaining it set the stage for the frantic final moments.
Purdue reaches the Sweet 16 for the second time in the last three seasons as they face the Red Raiders of Texas Tech who came out of Dallas with victories over Stephen F. Austin and Florida.