Game Recap: #2 Virginia Cavaliers vs. #7 Michigan State Spartans
The Michigan State Spartans upset the Virginia Cavaliers, winning 60-54. The Spartans held Virginia to 29.8 percent shooting from the field and only one made three on the night. This is the second consecutive year that the Spartans have knocked out the Cavaliers.
Virginia scored the first basket of the game to go up 2-0 in the opening minutes. The 18 seconds between this basket and the Spartans first bucket marked the only time Virginia led in the game. Michigan State immediately responded and jumped out to a 15-4 lead with 14:28 left in the game.
Once the Spartans took over initial control, they never let go. Momentum went back and forth throughout the night, but the Spartans never relinquished the lead. Virginia was able to draw within striking distance before the half ended but, Michigan State entered the break up 23-18
Virginia’s 18 points are its second-fewest in any half this season (17 in first half against Rutgers)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 22, 2015
Once again, the Spartans started off the half with a run against the stagnant Cavaliers offense. Michigan State was able to extend their lead to twelve, going up 37-25 with 15:08 left to play, before Virginia got rolling. Branden Dawson was instrumental in the run, scoring multiple times and making plays on both ends of the court.
Branden Dawson has been maddening at times during his career with lack of energy. He is in full beast mode today.
— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 22, 2015
As the game drew to a close, Virginia was able to bring the game within five with just over three minutes left to play. Travis Trice, who led all scorers with 23, responded for the Spartans burying a deep three that marked Michigan State’s only field goal of the last seven minutes. Michigan State was able to knock down free throws and come away with a 60-54 win.
Game Recap: #3 Oklahoma Sooners vs. #11 Dayton Flyers
The Oklahoma Sooners advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009 after beating the Dayton Flyers 72-66. Despite being drastically undersized, the Flyers were able to stay in the game because of a scorching night from deep, shooting 11-21 from beyond the arc. The Sooners outrebounded Dayton 35-23.
The Sooners jumped out to an early lead, scoring nine points before a Kendall Pollard layup put the Flyers on the board with 16:36 left to play. Oklahoma led for the majority of the half until Dayton tied the game at 29 on a Scoochie Smith three with 3:21 left to play in the first; a Darrell Davis three the next possession gave the Flyers their first lead of the night. The Sooners responded before the half and entered the break up 34-32.
The two teams battled to start the second half, but the Sooners were able to maintain the lead until a 12-0 Dayton run put the Flyers up 49-40 with 13:15 left in the game. Oklahoma did not regain the lead until just under the six-minute mark on a Buddy Hield layup. Oklahoma was able battle off the Flyers and maintain control of the lead for the rest of the night. Big 12 Player of the Year Buddy Hield made the biggest play of the night blocking Darrell Davis’ fast-break layup with just over a minute left to play to ensure the Sooners victory.
Next round preview: #3 Oklahoma Sooners vs. #7 Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans are red-hot going into this game, and I do not pick against Tom Izzo in March. That being said, Oklahoma could win this game if they are able to dominate the glass and keep the game close. Michigan State struggles at the free throw line, and that could be their downfall in this game. Be sure to look out for the Travis Trice vs. Buddy Hield matchup in this game.
Game Recap: #4 Louisville Cardinals vs. #5 UNI Panthers
The Louisville Cardinals defeated the UNI Panthers 66-53. The Cardinals held the Panthers to just 39 percent shooting on the night and only 6-19 from deep. Louisville also had more assists, rebounds and blocks on the night.
The game started favoring UNI with the Panthers holding a lead for most of the first ten minutes. Louisville did not take outright possession of the lead until a Montrezl Harrell put-back dunk put the Cardinals up 14-13 with 11:41 left in the first. The Cardinals took control of the game holding the lead until just over four minutes left in the first. The Panthers, however, would be unable to maintain control of the game and went into the half down 36-27.
Louisville controlled the game for most of the second half, and was only threatened seriously once. A Nate Buss jumper cut the Cardinals lead to six with just over six minutes left in the game. Louisville responded with an alley-oop from Terry Rozier to Harrell and the game was all but over. The Cardinals would extend their lead to 13 and the game ended with Louisville winning 66-53.
Next round preview: #4 Louisville Cardinals vs. #8 NC State Wolfpack
These two teams faced each other once in the regular season, back in Febuary, and the Wolfpack won that game by nine. I predict a different outcome in this matchup; Louisville is playing very well and just dismantled a UNI team that had been ranked in the top 15 during the season. I do not pick against great coaches in March, and Pitino will have his team ready to take control in this grudge match. I see a Louisville, Michigan State matchup in the Elite 8.
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