11th-seeded Syracuse eliminates Michigan State from NCAA Tournament

By  | 

DETROIT (WILX) -- Michigan State’s season is over after the Spartans were eliminated by 11th-seeded Syracuse in their own backyard.

Despite basically having a home court advantage crowd cheering them on in Detroit, the Spartans missed their last 14 shots from the field and lost 55-53.

The Orange were led by Tyus Battle’s 17 points and won for the third time in five days to secure an improbable Sweet 16 matchup against second-seeded Duke.

Michigan State’s loss is a bracket-buster for many college hoops fans, with more than a quarter of those who filled out brackets on ESPN picking the Spartans to reach the Final Four.

"These guys were every bit as good as you all saw them or you who interviewed them, never did they blow you off," said head coach Tom Izzo following Michigan State's loss Sunday. "Watching Tum (Nairn) and Miles (Bridges) there aren't many better guys than Tum. Not many guys that gave up more than Miles."

Syracuse's zone defense gave the Spartans fits from the very beginning of the game. Michigan State made one shot in the last seven minutes of regulation and finished shooting 17-66 (25.8%) for the game.

"It's really tough, we had a great season. Obviously, our plans were to win a national championship. I thought we were good enough to do that but it didn't happen. I told the guys after the game, that's part of life," said senior guard Lourawls 'Tum Tum' Nairn Jr.

Michigan State didn't shoot well from three-point land either. Out 37 shots from beyond-the-arc attempted, only eight went in giving MSU a 21.6% three-point field goal percentage.

"I really couldn't believe we lost," Bridges said following the game. "I thought we had the best chance to win the national championship. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. It's probably the saddest I've ever been in my life. I gave it my all and my teammates gave it their all."

The Spartans dominated the rebounding game, finishing with 51 total rebounds to Syracuse's 30. 29 of Michigan State's rebounds came on the offensive side of the glass.

MSU finishes the year with a 30-5 record but obviously fell well short of the ball the team set for themselves. Now, the questions remain of whether Bridges, freshman Jaren Jackson and Nick Ward will return to Michigan State for another season or enter the NBA Draft. All three MSU players did not answer questions about their futures following the Spartans second-round tournament upset loss.

After the game, Izzo praised Bridges decision to return to MSU for his sophomore season. "Because I've asked him a hundred times, he doesn't regret his decision," said Izzo. "It's because he made the decision that was right for him. That's what I've learned to tell anybody else, I try to get the best information that I can. But as we're learning about their decision, I'm comfortable with their decision. I was comfortable with his (Bridges) decision because I thought he was leaving the whole time. But because he gave me an extra ten months, I'm the lucky one."