Teams: Syracuse Orange (5-4, 0-0) vs. No. 19 Michigan State Spartans (7-2, 0-0)
Date and Time: Friday December 20, 1:30 p.m. ET.
Location: Winter Park, Fla. in the Florida Sunshine Classic.
TV Network: Streamed online at FloHoops.com with a subscription (booooo)
Michigan State Blog: The Only Colors
First Meeting: Michigan State beat Syracuse by a score of 89-76 at the Sunshine Classic, marking the first meeting between the schools.
Last Meeting: In 2016, Syracuse beat then No. 22 ranked Michigan State by a score of 75-64.
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Quentin Hillsman (14th year, 293-149) | Michigan State - Suzy Merchant (13th year, 246-120 at Michigan State).
Coach Bio: Merchant has established herself as a dominant coach in the B1G, as her Spartan teams have played very good basketball since her arrival in East Lansing in 2007. She’s been a Michigan woman her whole life, as she played her college ball at Central Michigan, was an assistant coach at Oakland University, then took over the reigns as the head coach at division II Saginaw Valley State, also in Michigan. In 1998 she took over as the head coach at Eastern Michigan, where she reached 1 NCAA tournament and 2 WNIT tournaments. In 2007, she took over as the head coach in East Lansing, making her coaching career pretty remarkable as she never once left the state of Michigan.
Last Year: A year ago the Spartans finished 21-12, going 9-9 in conference and finished 7th in the B1G. This was good enough to land them a spot in the dance, but were bounced in the second round by Notre Dame.
“Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords” Freshmen Julia Ayrault could pose problems for Syracuse as she has the ability to rack up the assists and could dice up the Syracuse zone. She put up 14 points — her season high — in her last game against Morehead State. Good guard play has bested the Orange a few times this year, hopefully they try to contain the Spartan backcourt.
If Syracuse Wins: Really big, neutral site win over a ranked opponent. Syracuse needs to finally win one of these games because everyone knows they can. The road does not get any easier from here on, however.
If Syracuse loses: Syracuse still has loads of ranked teams ahead of them, but going 2-0 in Florida would be fantastic, and almost certainly put the Orange back in the top 25. A loss wouldn’t be detrimental, but would make Orange fans say Bah-humbug.