NCAA Tournament 2018: Michigan State’s offense cratered at the worst possible time

Michigan State’s 2018 NCAA Tournament run ended in a 55-53 loss to Syracuse in the second round on Sunday.

The Spartans had one of the nation’s most talented rosters, and while their 82-78 win over No. 14-seed Bucknell was closer than they would have liked, MSU was still the favorite against Jim Boheim and the Orange. But Tom Izzo’s team couldn’t get anything going against Boheim’s zone in what became a defensive slog.

Here are some quick numbers to illustrate just how ugly this got for MSU’s offense:


Michigan State’s shooting percentage from the floor. It was every bit as bad as that sounds. Michigan State hasn’t shot that poorly from the field since a loss to Illinois in January of 2012. Michigan State’s average field goal percentage this season was 50 percent, good for fourth in the country.


Syracuse’s shooting percentage in this game. That’s still an ugly number, but it’s way more digestible than 26, and fits more with ‘Cuse’s style of play.


The number of field goals Michigan State missed in a row to end the game, which includes Cassius Winston’s half-court heave at the buzzer. Winston had MSU’s final bucket from the field. That came with 5:43 left in the game.


Miles Bridges’ shooting stats from the field on Sunday. It was an off-night for Michigan State’s star when the Spartans could ill-afford it. He averaged 6 makes on 13 attempts coming into the game, but his stats in this game show a marked distance from Bridges’ usual strategy. He hoisted 12 threes over Syracuse’s zone and only made 3. That’s more than double Bridges’ average 3-point attempts per game.

66 to 42

Michigan State’s total shots compared to Syracuse’s total shots. The Spartans had their chances even with all those missed shots. They dusted the Orange on offensive rebounds by a 29-7 margin, but still often had trouble converting on second chances.


The number of Michigan State turnovers in the game. Giveaways were always a sore spot with this MSU team, but they actually weren’t Tom Izzo’s biggest downfall in this NCAA Tournament game. Syracuse had only had two fewer giveaways than Michigan State did, so it’s best to look elsewhere for reasons why this was an MSU loss.

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