The Selection Committee did a good job in selecting Virginia as the final number one seed. They were the ACC regular season and tournament champions and anyone with a resume like that certainly deserves a Number 1 seed. Florida, Arizona, and Wichita State were no brainer number one choices and Virginia deserved that last top seed. Where the committee made a huge mistake is taking arguably the most talented team in the country in Michigan State and not taking the fact that there roster was finally healthy for the first time all year by assigning them a ridiculous 4 seed. This will be a great matchup of two hard nosed teams; it’s just a matchup that should occur in the Elite 8 and not in the Sweet 16.
Michigan State had a matchup with Delaware in the first round where they scored at will but did not show the defensive intensity necessary to win a National Championship. In the second round they faced 12 seed Harvard and played a similar game. They had an 8 point halftime lead and instead of stretching it out and pulling away they gave up 40 points in the second half and won the game by a slim 7 point margin. Harvard had a couple of makeable chances down the stretch and missed several shots late. Michigan State had a tremendous size advantage and yet the rebounding numbers were identical for both teams at the end of the game. Luckily for the Spartans, they had the difference maker in Branden Dawson who was 12-15 from the floor for 26 points and 9 rebounds. He almost outscored Harvard’s entire team in the paint as he had 22 points in the paint on 11-12 shooting. Lead guard Gary Harris had 18 points to go along with 5 assists. Big man Adrien Payne chipped in with 12 points. If the Spartans bring this type of defensive intensity into this game they will find themselves on an early vacation.
Virginia had a tougher time in their second round matchup vs. Coastal Carolina than they would have liked, but they were still able to pull out the win. In the third round, many thought that they would have a tough time with a talented and experienced Memphis team. The Cavaliers are not a great offensive team and do not have a scorer that they can count on for 20 points a game, however they do have a reliable team defense that is suffocating. Memphis soon learned about how difficult this defense can be to penetrate when at halftime they had only scored 20 points. Virginia’s defense held them to 3-17 from the field outside of the paint. Joe Harris is the senior leader of the Cavaliers and he led his team with 16 points and 5 rebounds while committing only 2 turnovers. They are a deep team that played 8 players over 10 minutes. Anthony Gill had 13 point s and 8 rebounds. Mike Tobey had 11 points, while Michael Brogdon and Justin Anderson had 10 points each.
The stage has been set for a fantastic Sweet 16 game. If Michigan State can get back to defending with passion and limiting Virginia to one shot per possession they should be victorious. If the game slows down and its close with a few minutes left then the favor shifts to Virginia who is used to playing these close games.
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