First - all credit to Virginia. The Cavalier defense absolutely stymied the Spartans for most of the game, producing not one, but two stretches of 5+ minutes where the Spartans did not score a field goal. The pack the line defense looked every bit the part of the team that won the ACC regular season and postseason, and they played like a number one seed to the end. That said...
If you ever wanted proof this Michigan State was tough, well, here it was. Even after going through those long stretches without baskets from the field, they still persevered. Especially Branden Dawson; the forward from Gary is going to be MSU's MVP at this rate. Dawson was 9-16 from the field and 6-8 from the free throw line for 24 points. Branden had 10 rebounds as well, and did not commit a turnover. If he maintains this level of play, enjoy it, because he will not be around much longer.
I'd be remiss if I didn't give credit to Adreian Payne as well. While Payne looked gassed at times on the court, he made a critical three with under two minutes left to secure the Michigan State. No player other than Dawson or Payne scored more than 6 points in this game. But you know why that didn't matter?
Because the Spartans contested shots. Sure, they allowed too many offensive rebounds to Virginia tonight, but the Cavaliers only made 14-39 of their twos, and one-third of their threes (6-18). However crappy MSU's offense was during the late first half and early second half, Virginia's offense was, at best, marginally better, and that's what made the difference.
Now Michigan State will face Connecticut, a team which is peaking at the right time under not only a hot Shabazz Napier but also a hot coach in Kevin Ollie. Ollie's first win came against the Spartans in Germany. On Sunday around 2:20 Eastern it's time to repay the favor. Go Green, Go White y'all.