When the 2014 NCAA Tournament brackets were first announced this past Sunday, Michigan State, despite being a 4-seed, was easily the most popular choice by analysts to cut down the nets in April. In order to get one step closer, the Spartans will have to get past 1-seed Virginia, whose defense has been absolutely dominant in the postseason.
Date: Friday, March 28, 2014
Time: 9:57 PM EST
TV Channel: TBS
Location: Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery, Allie LaForce
Opening Betting Line: Michigan State -1 (126) via Odds Shark
Prediction: Michigan State had an up-and-down season (mostly due to injuries) but the Spartans are finally healthy and playing at as high a level as they have all year. Adreian Payne has been an absolute monster inside, scoring 41 points in MSU’s opener against Delaware. Branden Dawson took over against Harvard, scoring 26 points on 12-of-15 shooting in Saturday’s win. This team has multiple ways to hurt you.
But Virginia’s defense, as noted above, is elite. In fact, the Cavs have only given up more than 70 points in one game in 2014, and it took an extra five minutes – the overtime loss to Maryland. UVA is also very well-balanced – it isn’t reliant on one player on the offensive end – Malcolm Brogden, Joe Harris and London Perrantes present problems for all opponents.
Defense wins championships, right? We’ll take Virginia. Tony Bennett & Co. could be headed to the Final Four.