MSU vs. Virginia: How they match up
Matt Charboneau of The Detroit News breaks down Sunday's NCAA Tournament matchup between the No. 7-seeded Spartans and No. 2 Cavaliers (12:10 p.m., CBS).
Senior Travis Trice struggled from the field in the victory over Georgia but hit some timely shots, handed out six assists and played outstanding defense. Denzel Valentine had another all-around solid game with 16 points and six assists while making six straight free throws to ice the game in the final minutes. And freshman Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn had a pair of steals and will be counted on defensively again in this matchup. He'll be at a disadvantage against both London Perrantes (6-foot-2) and Malcolm Brogdon (6-6), but the Spartans will likely be doing plenty of switching defensively. They'll need to be good as Brogdon is coming off a 22-point outing in the Cavaliers' win over Belmont and Perrantes handed out three assists in 31 minutes. Edge: Even.
Branden Dawson had a big second half in the win over Georgia, scoring 14 points, grabbing six rebounds and blocking a pair of shots. He has a history of success against Virginia after scoring 24 points and pulling down 10 rebounds in last season's win in the Sweet 16. He'll need help this time around and that will mean a bounce-back from the Spartans' centers. Gavin Schilling played only four minutes and Matt Costello was disappointing 1-for-8 from the field. They'll be challenged by a big, physical group for the Cavaliers, led by Anthony Gill, who had 16 points in the win over Belmont. Darion Atkins grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds and Evan Nolte filled in again for Justin Anderson, who is working his way back after injuries have limited him. Edge: Virginia.
Michigan State had been getting big lifts from the bench for the last couple of weeks and Bryn Forbes led the way in the win over Georgia with 14 points. Freshman Marvin Clark also provided a spark when Dawson sat with foul trouble and Colby Wollenman grabbed five key rebounds in 11 minutes of action. Anderson could provide another spark for the Cavaliers after coming of the bench to score 15 in the win over Belmont. He missed eight games with a broken finger and an appendectomy. At 7-feet tall, center Mike Tobey will enjoy a significant advantage in the low post. Edge: Even.
Tom Izzo is in his element in March and is attempting to improve his record in the round of 32 to 13-1. The only loss for the Spartans was in 2007 to North Carolina and Izzo has never lost to the Cavaliers. Tony Bennett, in his sixth season, has enjoyed plenty of regular-season success but is in just his third NCAA Tournament with the Cavaliers, and last year's Sweet 16 was the farthest he has taken them. He went twice at Washington State but the Sweet 16 was as far as he got there, as well. Edge: Michigan State.