CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The last 18 hours have not been friendly to favorites in the East Region. As NC State was arriving back in Raleigh to fanfare after knocking off No. 1 -seed Villanova, Michigan State was down the road ending Virginia’s NCAA tournament for the second year in a row with a 60-54 victory vs. the Cavaliers.
Travis Trice took the lead early, dropping daggers in Virginia’s confidence with big shots after 30 seconds of great defense. The Wahoos adjusted by putting Malcolm Brogdon, arguably UVA’s best on-ball defender, on the Spartans guard. But while Michigan State went through a drought that opened the door for Tony Bennett’s team to climb back into the game, the shots simply did not fall.
Virginia shot a season-low 12 percent from behind the arc, and just 30 from the field for the game. Justin Anderson, making his first start since Feb. 7, missed all his three-point tries and Malcolm Brogdon, the Wahoos best offensive player while Anderson was sidelined, could not get going at all. Michigan State was not doing anything particular to bother Virginia; there were plenty of good looks at the basket, they just didn’t fall.
For Tom Izzo, this further adds to his absurd dominance in the Round of 32. Izzo has always been known as a terrific coach in March, but he is now 13-1 on the back half of the NCAA tournament’s opening weekend. With Travis Trice playing as well as he has in March and Branden Dawson keyed in, Sparty has a good chance to make noise in Syracuse with the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds out of the picture.