Michigan State rolled over Valparaiso in Auburn Hills today 65-54 in the first game of the NCAA Tournament. Valparaiso just was not on the Spartans’ level Thursday, as the game was not nearly as close as the final score would portray it.
It was the Spartans inside play that led them to the easy win. Michigan State, having one of the best big-man duos in the country in Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix, dominated in the paint. They won the rebounding battle by a ridiculous margin, 44-20, including 17 offensive boards. The Spartans just bullied the smaller, weaker Valparaiso team, running out to a 17 point half time lead.
Derrick Nix led the charge, with a massive double-double, 23 points and 15 rebounds. It was the best performance of the year for the massive senior. Nix’s performance was the best of any player on the opening day of the tourney. He was magnificent and the Spartans now roll on the round of 32.
Kieth Appling added 15 points, along with 6 boards for the Spartans, who will be playing Memphis on Saturday.
Memphis just barely snuck past St. Mary’s today 56-54, with Matthew Dellavadova missing a game winning three pointer in the final seconds for the Gaels.
This was the first NCAA Tournament win for Memphis coach Josh Pastner, and that count will likely end for this year. Michigan State will be a big favorite, as Memphis was less than impressive in their win over the cold-shooting Gaels of St. Mary’s. They escaped with a win but will have to play a lot better to beat the Spartans.
As long as Michigan State plays as well as they did Thursday, they will be tough to beat for any team. Nix was superb, as the whole team chipped in for the first round victory. That is the recipe for success for Michigan State in the tournament- dominant inside play.