Syracuse vexes Michigan State, pulls off remarkable upset

The Syracuse Orange are going to the Sweet 16. And there is only one appropriate follow-up question to that statement: How?

How did a team that probably shouldn’t even be in the NCAA tournament knock off a national title contender, Michigan State?

How did 11th-seeded Syracuse beat the third-seeded Spartans, 55-53, despite taking 42 shots to Michigan State’s 66?

How did a thin roster with only three legitimate scorers stave off foul trouble and 24 opponent offensive rebounds to beat one of the deepest, biggest and strongest teams in the field? How did it do so with only one made 3-pointer?

The upset was inexplicable. And yet as the Spartans threw up brick after brick, and as visions of past Syracuse tournament runs danced into the minds of the thousands of Michigan State fans in Detroit, it almost seemed inevitable.

22 PHOTOS
Sports photos of the week: March 9 - March 16
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Sports photos of the week: March 9 - March 16
DAYTON, OH - MARCH 14: Raasean Davis #32 of the North Carolina Central Eagles blocks a shot by Donte Clark #1 of the Texas Southern Tigers in the first half during the First Four of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 14, 2018 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
BOISE, ID - MARCH 15: Johnathan Williams #3 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs battles for a rebound against James Dickey #21 of the UNC-Greensboro Spartans in the first half during the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Taco Bell Arena on March 15, 2018 in Boise, Idaho. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 15: Anna Nordqvist of Sweden plays a tee shot on the 10th hole during the first round of the Bank Of Hope Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club on March 15, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 15: Briana Stephenson of New Zealand competes in the Women's Under 20 Long Jump during day two of the Australian Junior Athletics Championships at Sydney Olympic Athletics Centre on March 15, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 14: Olivier Giroud of Chelsea shoots during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC at Camp Nou on March 14, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - MARCH 14: Ahmed Alhousani of UAE competes in the Javelin Wheelchair Men final during the 10th Fazza International IPC Athletics Grand Prix Competition - World Para Athletics Grand Prix on March 14, 2018 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 14: Robert Weitsz of Victoria rests after competing in the Men's 2000 Metre Steeplechase Under 18 during day one of the Australian Junior Athletics Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Centre on March 14, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - MARCH 15: Tyler McGregor #8 of Canada battles for the puck with Sung Young Kim #12 of Korea in the Ice Hockey semi final game between Canada and Korea during day six of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games on March 15, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
DAYTON, OH - MARCH 13: Kris Wilkes #13 of the UCLA Bruins is defended by Amadi Ikpeze #32 of the St. Bonaventure Bonnies during the second half of the First Four game in the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 13, 2018 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - MARCH 14: Gold Medalist Theo Gmur of Switzerland celebrates after he competes in the Men's Giant Slalom Run Standing at Alpensia Biathlon Centre on day five of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games on March 14, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 11: Myles Turner #33 of the Indiana Pacers dunks the ball during a game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on March 11, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 11: Charlie Fellows of Park Wrekin School of Gymnastics competes on the Beam in the WAG Senior Apparatus Final during the Gymnastics British Championships at Echo Arena on March 11, 2018 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
PALM HARBOR, FL - MARCH 11: Fans reach to watch Tiger Woods (not pictured) putt on the 18th hole during the final round of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course on March 11, 2018 in Palm Harbor, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - France vs England - Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France - March 10, 2018 England?s Owen Farrell looks dejected as France celebrate victory after the match REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Soccer Football - Premier League - Newcastle United vs Southampton - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - March 10, 2018 Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Ice Hockey - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Paralympics Mixed Classification Games - Norway v Japan - Gangneung Hockey Centre, Gangneung, South Korea - March 14, 2018 - Eiji Misawa of Japan in action. REUTERS/Carl Recine TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 15: Tiger Woods reacts to his birdie putt on the seventh hole during the first round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented By MasterCard at Bay Hill Club and Lodge on March 15, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Skiers compete on March 14, 2018 during the first stage of the 33rd edition of the Pierra Menta ski mountaineering competition in Areches-Beaufort. / AFP PHOTO / JEFF PACHOUD (Photo credit should read JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Juventus' Moroccan defender Mehdi Amine Benatia reacts after his t-shirt was ripped-up by Atalanta's Dutch midfielder Marten de Roon (unseen) during the Italian Serie A football match between Juventus and Atalanta on March 14, 2018 at the Allianz Stadium in Turin. / AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLO (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)
SOFIA, BULGARIA - MARCH 11: Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha of Canada perform in the Gala Exhibition during the World Junior Figure Skating Championships at Arena Armeec on March 11, 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria. (Photo by Joosep Martinson - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 10: Jevon Carter #2 of the West Virginia Mountaineers drives toward the basket during the Big 12 Basketball Tournament Championship game against the Kansas Jayhawks at Sprint Center on March 10, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 10: Ben May of the Hurricanes thanks fans on his way to warm up ahead of the round four Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Crusaders at Westpac Stadium on March 10, 2018 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
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Of course the “last team in” has won three games in five days. Of course Jim Boeheim is still confounding opponents with his famous zone. Of course the Orange made just enough shots to pull off the victory. Of course they’ll be playing next week in Omaha. (And of course they’ll be playing against Duke.)

A frantic final minute, replete with turnovers, jump balls and reviews, gave Michigan State several opportunities to put 39 ugly minutes behind it. Jim Boeheim instructed his team to foul Matt McQuaid up three with seven seconds to play. McQuaid made both free throws, but Franklin Howard matched him at the other end.

Up three again, Syracuse fouled with less than five seconds left. Cassius Winston made two more free throws to cut the lead back to one, but Michigan State’s next foul of Syracuse came with just 2.4 seconds left. That didn’t give the Spartans enough time to get off a good look at the other end.

The Spartans didn’t make a single basket over the game’s final five-and-a-half minutes. And they fell to Syracuse and Boeheim, who continue to be unlikely masters of March.

68 PHOTOS
The academic ranking of 2018 March Madness teams
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The academic ranking of 2018 March Madness teams

Penn

NCAA ranking: 64

U.S. News & World Report: #8 National University

(Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

Duke

NCAA ranking: 6

U.S. News & World Report: #9 National University

(Photo by Michael Berg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

UCLA

NCAA ranking: 41

U.S. News & World Report: #21 National University (tie)

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Virginia

NCAA ranking: 1

U.S. News & World Report: #25 National University

(Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Michigan

NCAA ranking: 11

U.S. News & World Report: #28 National University

(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

North Carolina

NCAA ranking: 5

U.S. News & World Report: #30 National University (tie)

(Photo by Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Florida

NCAA ranking: 21

U.S. News & World Report: #42 National University (tie)

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Miami (FL)

NCAA ranking: 22

U.S. News & World Report: #46 National University (tie)

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Villanova

NCAA ranking: 2

U.S. News & World Report: #46 National University (tie)

(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Ohio State

NCAA ranking: 20

U.S. News & World Report: #54 National University (tie)

(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Purdue

NCAA ranking: 7

U.S. News & World Report: #56 National University (tie)

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Texas

NCAA ranking: 39

U.S. News & World Report: #56 National University (tie)

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Syracuse

NCAA ranking: 44

U.S. News & World Report: #61 National University (tie)

(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

Clemson

NCAA ranking: 19

U.S. News & World Report: #67 National University

(Photo by Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images)

Texas A&M

NCAA ranking: 25

U.S. News & World Report: #69 National University (tie)

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Virginia Tech

NCAA ranking: 31

U.S. News & World Report: #69 National University (tie)

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Texas Christian University (TCU)

NCAA ranking: 24

U.S. News & World Report: #78 National University (tie)

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Florida State

NCAA ranking: 38

U.S. News & World Report: #81 National University (tie)

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Michigan State

NCAA ranking: 9

U.S. News & World Report: #81 National University (tie)

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

North Carolina State

NCAA ranking: 37

U.S. News & World Report: #81 National University (tie)

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Buffalo

NCAA ranking: 51

U.S. News & World Report: #97 National University (tie)

(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Oklahoma

NCAA ranking: 40

U.S. News & World Report: #97 National University (tie)

(Photo by David Stacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Auburn

NCAA ranking: 13

U.S. News & World Report: #103 National University (tie)

(Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Loyola-Chicago

NCAA ranking: 46

U.S. News & World Report: #103 National University (tie)

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Tennessee

NCAA ranking: 10

U.S. News & World Report: #103 National University (tie)

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Alabama

NCAA ranking: 36

U.S. News & World Report: #110 National University (tie)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Arizona State

NCAA ranking: 43

U.S. News & World Report: #115 National University (tie)

(Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Kansas

NCAA ranking: 3

U.S. News & World Report: #115 National University (tie)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Missouri

NCAA ranking: 32

U.S. News & World Report: #120 National University (tie)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Seton Hall

NCAA ranking: 29

U.S. News & World Report: #124 National University (tie)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Arizona

NCAA ranking: 16

U.S. News & World Report: #124 National University (tie)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Arkansas

NCAA ranking: 26

U.S. News & World Report: #133 National University (tie)

(Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Cincinnati

NCAA ranking: 8

U.S. News & World Report: #133 National University (tie)

(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Kentucky

NCAA ranking: 17

U.S. News & World Report: #133 National University (tie)

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

San Diego State

NCAA ranking: 45

U.S. News & World Report: #140 National University (tie)

(Photo by Josh Holmberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Kansas State

NCAA ranking: 34

U.S. News & World Report: #145 National University (tie)

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Rhode Island

NCAA ranking: 28

U.S. News & World Report: #156 National University (tie)

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Maryland – Baltimore County

NCAA ranking: 63

U.S. News & World Report: #159 National University (tie)

(Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Texas Tech

NCAA ranking: 12

U.S. News & World Report: #176 National University (tie)

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Lipscomb

NCAA ranking: 59

U.S. News & World Report: #181 National University (tie)

(Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

West Virginia

NCAA ranking: 18

U.S. News & World Report: #187 National University (tie)

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Houston

NCAA ranking: 23

U.S. News & World Report: #192 National University (tie)

(Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

New Mexico State

NCAA ranking: 47

U.S. News & World Report: #198 National University (tie)

(Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

California State University -- Fullerton

NCAA ranking: 61

U.S. News & World Report: #202 National University (tie)

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Nevada

NCAA ranking: 27

U.S. News & World Report: #202 National University (tie)

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Montana

NCAA ranking: 56

U.S. News & World Report: #207 National University (tie)

(Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

South Dakota State

NCAA ranking: 49            

U.S. News & World Report: #216 National University (tie)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Georgia State

NCAA ranking: 60

U.S. News & World Report: #223 National University (tie)

(Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Wichita State

NCAA ranking: 14

U.S. News & World Report: #231-300 National University

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Texas Southern

NCAA ranking: 68

U.S. News & World Report: #231-300 National University

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

University of North Carolina -- Greensboro

NCAA ranking: 52

U.S. News & World Report: #231-300 National University

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Wright State

NCAA ranking: 57

U.S. News & World Report: #231-300 National University

(Photo by Andy Hancock/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Davidson

NCAA ranking: 48

U.S. News & World Report: #10 National Liberal Arts College

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Bucknell

NCAA ranking: 55

U.S. News & World Report: #33 National Liberal Arts College

(Photo by Brian Utesch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Creighton

NCAA ranking: 30

U.S. News & World Report: #1 Regional University (Midwest)

(Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Providence

NCAA ranking: 35

U.S. News & World Report: #1 Regional University (North)

(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Butler

NCAA ranking: 33

U.S. News & World Report: #2 Regional University (Midwest)

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Gonzaga

NCAA ranking: 15

U.S. News & World Report: #4 Regional University (West)

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Xavier

NCAA ranking: 4

U.S. News & World Report: #5 Regional University (Midwest)

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

College of Charleston

NCAA ranking: 53

U.S. News & World Report: #12 Regional University (South)

(Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

St. Bonaventure

NCAA ranking: 42

U.S. News & World Report: #21 Regional University (North)

(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Murray State

NCAA ranking: 50

U.S. News & World Report: #32 Regional University (South)

(Photo by Stephen Furst/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Marshall

NCAA ranking: 54

U.S. News & World Report: #43 Regional University (South) (tie)

(Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportwire)

Radford

NCAA ranking: 65

U.S. News & World Report: #43 Regional University (South) (tie)

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Stephen F. Austin

NCAA ranking: 58

U.S. News & World Report: #73 Regional University (West)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Iona

NCAA ranking: 62

U.S. News & World Report: #75 Regional University (North)

(Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

North Carolina Central

NCAA ranking: 67

U.S. News & World Report: #80 Regional University (South)

(Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Long Island University -- Brooklyn

NCAA ranking: 66

U.S. News & World Report: Not ranked

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Henry Bushnell covers soccer and college basketball for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.

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