For the second time in three seasons, a Michigan State men’s basketball team perceived as a favorite to win the national title entering the NCAA Tournament has been bounced in the first weekend. It’s the third straight year overall that MSU has failed to make it through to the Sweet 16.
Much to the dismay of Spartan Nation, fans were left scratching their heads after the performance MSU put out in their 55-53 loss to Syracuse on Sunday. Perhaps fewer of those fans, if any, was more outspoken than the always polarizing Mike Valenti on 97.1 The Ticket.
On Monday, Valenti did not mince words as he opened the show talking about the loss. Anyone who has listed to him over the years here in Detroit knows that while he is as proud of an MSU grad as the next, he is also not shy about leveling into his school when it comes to their downfalls, especially in athletics.
Valenti did so again with this show-opening rant. For those who missed it, enjoy. For those who listened live yesterday, enjoy it once more.
Quite frankly, Valenti is pretty spot on with his criticisms of Michigan State and head coach Tom Izzo following his post-game comments.
The Spartans not only fell victim to the patented Syracuse zone defense for 40 minutes, but they effectively did exactly what Orange head coach Jim Boeheim had hoped for, just chuck up triple attempt after triple attempt after passing it around the perimeter for the duration of a full shot clock’s worth of a possession.
Michigan State hoisted a new program-high 37 three-point attempts against Syracuse, converting on only eight of them, which included a miracle circus bank shot from Matt McQuaid to end the first half. And not only was the 25.8 percent field goal shooting their lowest mark of the season in any game, it’s the worst since January of 2012.
Valenti also points towards the usage of sophomore Nick Ward and freshman Jaren Jackson Jr., or the lack thereof in this case. The two combined to log just 31 minutes, as their playing time was sacrificed in favor of players like freshman Xavier Tillman and sixth-year grad transfer Ben Carter. Ward in his limited time proved to be effective, going 4 of 5 from the floor.
Rather than use their depth of big men to further exploit Syracuse into major foul trouble, Michigan State opted to take shots from outside.