DETROIT (AP) — No. 3 Michigan State (30-4) vs. No. 11 Syracuse (22-13)
First round, Midwest Region; Detroit, Sunday, approximately 2:40 p.m. ET.
BOTTOM LINE: The Spartans, with a title-or-bust mentality, are desperately hoping to survive the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years. The Orange will try to overcome playing their third game in five days in what will have the look and sound of a road game.
SERIES HISTORY: Michigan State beat Syracuse in suburban Detroit in the 2000 regional semifinals and went on win the national championship. The Orange won the next four matchups in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2010 and leads the all-time series 10-7.
ORANGE IN THE D: Syracuse fans will be outnumbered, but two of its all-time greats, Dave Bing and Derrick Coleman, are expected to attend the game in the home of the Detroit Red Wings and Pistons. “If I could play them we’d have a shot, a really good shot,” said Jim Boeheim, a roommate of Bing’s in college.
GOOD COMPANY: Michigan State coach Tom Izzo won his 47th NCAA Tournament game Friday night against Bucknell, breaking a seventh-place tie on the all-time list with John Wooden. If Izzo can help the Spartans beat Syracuse, he’ll move into a sixth-place tie with Jim Calhoun behind Rick Pitino, Boeheim, Dean Smith, Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski.
DEPTH DIFFERENCE: Syracuse brings just two players off the bench, barely, and may not take out its top three players the entire game. Michigan State has an 11-man rotation and wants to take advantage of its depth and schedule, playing its third game in 16 days.