Mar 28, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Michigan State Spartans forward Adreian Payne (5) reacts after a shot during the second half against the Virginia Cavaliers in the semifinals of the east regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Rapid Reaction: MSU Advances to the Elite 8


Mar 28, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard/forward Branden Dawson (22) shoots the ball against Virginia Cavaliers forward/center Mike Tobey (10) during the second half in the semifinals of the east regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State edged out Virginia in a nail biting victory 61-59. The 1 vs 4 match-up lived up to every bit of hype that it received. Both teams play hard nosed physical defense, which made for a battle on every possession. Some quick thoughts following the victory are:

Mar 28, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Michigan State Spartans forward Adreian Payne (5) blocks the shot of Virginia Cavaliers forward Akil Mitchell (25) during the second half in the semifinals of the east regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

1. Trice has ice in the veins. Trice continues to make big plays for the Spartans in the tournament. He hit 2 free-throws with 9 seconds left to give the Spartans a 4 point lead. Trice was clutch again down the stretch, and put Virginia away with the pair of free-throws he hit. The Spartans will continue to need Trice to play well with Appling struggling to score the ball on the offensive end. He adds shooting which spaces the floor and adds another offensive threat to this already potent Spartan offense. After Trice made his clutch free throws Virginia came down and hit a three to cut the Spartan lead to one. Gary Harris was fouled on the ensuing possession with 1 second left. Harris hit the first to give the Spartans a 2 point lead, but Izzo had him miss the second. It was a questionable strategy, if Virginia makes the heave they win, but it paid off today.

Mar 28, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard Gary Harris (14) drives to the basket against Virginia Cavaliers guard Malcolm Brogdon (15) during the second half in the semifinals of the east regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

2. How good is Branden Dawson? Dawson dominated another game, scoring 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He went 9-16 from the floor and completely changes this Spartan team when he is on the floor. He attacks the rim and the glass, adding physicality and toughness to the Spartan line up. He seems to do all the little things, but in this tournament he is also doing all the big things: he is averaging 20 points and 9 rebounds a game in the tournament so far. His stellar play helped lift the Spartans past the best defensive team in the tournament while Gary Harris was struggling with foul trouble. Beating a number 1 seed while Gary Harris struggles shows the depth of talent on the Spartans.

Mar 28, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Michigan State Spartans forward Adreian Payne (5) dunks the ball over Virginia Cavaliers forward/center Mike Tobey (10) during the second half in the semifinals of the east regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

3. Adreian Payne is the premier player left in the tournament. No team has an answer for his size and versatility. There’s so many different places he can catch the ball and score which makes him nearly impossible to stop. If it was possible, I think Virginia would have done it. They made him work for every one of his 16 points tonight. Whenever he was in the block he was doubled, but Virginia fronted and had help side behind which made it nearly impossible to get Payne the ball on the block. Izzo started to move Payne around on the perimeter and cutting off the elbow to get him better touches without a double team. Payne’s versatility allows him to score in all areas of the court, which makes him nearly impossible for defenses to take out of the game. Plus, the big guy will make clutch free-throws down the stretch, not many centers can say that.

Michigan State plays Connecticut at 2:30 on Sunday afternoon.

Mar 28, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard Keith Appling (11) shoots the ball against Virginia Cavaliers forward/center Mike Tobey (10) during the second half in the semifinals of the east regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 28, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard/forward Branden Dawson (22) passes the ball to Michigan State Spartans forward Adreian Payne (5) against Virginia Cavaliers forward Akil Mitchell (25) during the second half in the semifinals of the east regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 28, 2014; New York, NY, USA; The Michigan State Spartans bench reacts during the second half against the Virginia Cavaliers in the semifinals of the east regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 28, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard Travis Trice (20) drives to the basket against Virginia Cavaliers guard Malcolm Brogdon (15) and Virginia Cavaliers guard London Perrantes (23) during the second half in the semifinals of the east regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports


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Tags: Basketball Michigan State Ncaa Tournament Spartans Virginia