No. 15 Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders vs. No. 10 Syracuse Orange (-6, 130.5)
Game to be played Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO
Middle Tennessee shocked the NCAA Tournament field with its first-round victory and Sunday the Blue Raiders will try to become second No. 15 seed to ever advance to the Sweet Sixteen when they meet No. 10 Syracuse in the Midwest Region in St. Louis. Middle Tennessee knocked off second-seeded Michigan State on Friday in what some are calling the biggest upset in tournament history, just hours after the Orange posted their own mild upset against No. 7 Dayton.
Middle Tennessee faced a noticeable size disadvantage against Michigan State, but never trailed in the 90-81 victory after surging to a 15-2 lead against a team that many believed was deserving of a No. 1 seed. The challenge against Syracuse will be penetrating its complicated zone defense, which held Dayton to a season-low 51 points in its 19-point first-round victory. Reggie Upshaw and Perrin Buford are undersized but versatile big men for the Blue Raiders and they could make things more difficult for the Orange’s containment plans. Syracuse will look for another big game from 6-foot-6 guard Malachi Richardson, who scored 21 points in the first-round win against Dayton, the first Syracuse freshman to score at least 20 in an NCAA Tournament game since Carmelo Anthony in 2003.
TV: 6:10 p.m. ET, TNT
LINE HISTORY: Syracuse opened as 6-point favorites over upset-minded Middle Tennessee State and have been bet up to -6.5. The total opened at 131 and has been bet down a half point to 130.5. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT MIDDLE TENNESSEE (25-9, 18-15 ATS, 15-17-1 O/U): The straw that stirs the drink for the Blue Raiders is 6-2, 220-pound guard Giddy Potts, who seems to be fully recovered from a late-season concussion and demonstrated his health by scoring 19 points against Michigan State. Potts came into the game shooting 50.3 percent from the 3-point line and made 3-of-5 against the Spartans, the type of marksmanship that will come in handy against the zone. Potts also showed his calm nerves down the stretch by making all four of his free throw attempts in the final 18 seconds to help preserve the win against Michigan State.
ABOUT SYRACUSE (20-13, 17-15 ATS, 17-15 O/U): Tyler Roberson had 10 points and 18 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end, against a Dayton squad that came into the tournament sporting some of the best defensive rebounding stats in the country. The 6-8 forward earned his seventh double-double of the season and the Orange have won all seven of those games, so when he’s extra active down low they’re a much better team. Roberson may get drawn away from the basket because Upshaw and Buford shoot the 3-pointer well, so that might force the Syracuse guards to get more involved on the glass.
* Middle Tennessee State is 6-0 ATS in its last six non-conference games.
* Syracuse is 4-1 ATS in its last five games overall.
* Under is 5-2 in Middle Tennessee State’s last seven games overall.
* Over is 7-1 Syracuse’s last eight neutral site games.