The team that many felt didn’t belong in the NCAA Tournament is heading to the Sweet 16.
Thanks to 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting from Michael Gbinije, the No. 10 Syracuse Orange took care of business against No. 15 Middle Tennessee, 75-50, on Sunday night in St. Louis.
Trevor Cooney and Tyler Roberson each added 12 points of their own for the Orange. Roberson pulled down nine rebounds.
Middle Tennessee was led by Darnell Harris with 11 points and five rebounds. Reggie Upshaw, who was a major piece of the puzzle that allowed the Blue Raiders to knock off Michigan State in the first round with 21 points, was held to just two points on 1-of-10 shooting.
The Orange looked like they were going to run away early, building a 22-10 first-half lead. The Blue Raiders were able to come back and even take a brief lead early in the second half, going up 33-31 just 90 seconds into the second half. A short time later, with the game tied at 35, Malachi Richardson would hit a three-point shot — his only field goal of the game — to put the Orange up 38-35. They would never look back after that.
Syracuse would score 27 of the game’s next 36 points to pull away from the Blue Raiders, and put the game away for good. The win now sends Syracuse, the sixth ACC team to make it to the Sweet 16, to Chicago for a matchup with No. 11 Gonzaga on Friday. The game guarantees that a double-digit seed will play in the Elite 8.