So that was fun.
Oh, and after the R.E.M discussion before the Georgia game, I thought this was especially poignant (or, at least the title. It's kind of a depressing song, honestly).
Four Factors Review
MSU... took care of the ball and got out-rebounded. In both games. I'm confused about this strange new world we live in. How is this even possible? Anyways, the defense was terrific in both games, holding Georgia to an eFG% of 36.8 and Virginia to an eFG% of 31.6. On the Virginia post-game show, Jeremy mentioned that he thought the scrambling MSU defense was partly to blame for the rebounding issues. If that's a true trade-off, then you take it.
Travis Trice just continues to pull new tricks out of the hat. We knew he had range, but he was hitting shots from unconscionably far away against Virginia. His 23 points against Virginia is the third-most scored by an individual against them this season, and Angel Rodriguez for Miami required two overtimes to get to 25.
Denzel Valentine continues to give this team just what it needs. His 16-6-6-3 (points-rebounds-assists-steals) were perfect against Georgia. In just 21 minutes against Virginia, Denzel still managed to dish out 4 assists and grab 4 rebounds.
Branden Dawson's defensive energy was incredible to start the Virginia game. I think he's the reason why this team got out to the early lead, and his 15-9-4 (points-rebounds-blocks) can't be understated. A dialed-in Dawson will be key next weekend.
Bryn Forbes was a more impactful player as well, gaining some praise for his defense. If he can be a plus defender, his ability to shoot the ball opens up possibilities in half-court sets and spreads out defenses. I'm encouraged.
Tum Tum Nairn's impact is something I can't explain but is there. Math fails here. I don't understand conceptually how his defense and ball distribution opens things up for MSU, but I feel better when he's not in foul trouble.
Maven Costelling struggled against Georgia but added just enough against Virginia. I thought Gavin Schilling looked better defensively against Virginia than he has in weeks, and Matt Costello was both efficient offensively (156 ORating on 10% usage) and helped on the boards.
Marvin Clark and Alvin Ellis provided some energy defensively, but were stifled by Virginia's defense. That's just fine; they were able to avoid a meltdown while Valentine was on the bench in the first half against Virginia and that's what was needed.
The East Regional
A defensive stalwart with some size on the wing but without a ton of size down low; not on the same level defensively on Virginia. Both Albany and Dayton got to 1 PPP, and Albany did so without shooting the lights out from three. More importantly, this team plays a lot faster than Virginia and an increase in transition opportunity should benefit MSU.
KenPom calls Oklahoma a 55% favorite, while FiveThirtyEight calls MSU a 54% favorite. The difference is that 538 incorporates preseason rankings, injury status, and travel distance. Those things are likely enough to push the odds in MSU's favor.
We'll have a more in-depth preview later this week; for now, realize this game isn't as tough a matchup as Virginia but would represent the second-best win of the season in terms of opponent quality. It'll be no cakewalk.
North Carolina State
Was really strong on the boards vs. Villanova, and was able to shoot the ball quite well from two. Would be an interesting matchup for MSU and would likely require a dose of Colby Wollenman. That doesn't scare me, and I'm confused by that as well.
Another very good defensive team. To potentially have to go through Georgia, Virginia, Oklahoma and Louisville would represent an incredible defensive gauntlet. Those are all top-25 defenses, and Virginia, Oklahoma, and Louisville represent three of the top six teams in terms of defensive efficiency.
N.C. State - Louisville Odds: Louisville by 3. But we want the Wolfpack.
Your Weekly Dose of #SWollenman