Virginia Basketball Has The Team to Take Down Michigan State in Sweet 16

By Gregory Philson
Virginia Cavaliers
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Cavaliers have had their fair share of critics this season because they do not play the most entertaining style of basketball. Coach Tony Bennett‘s team would rather get down in their haunches, lock down a team’s best player and hold opponents to less than 50 points. The Cavaliers take pride in their defense, but it’s their efficient offense that will be the difference when they take on Michigan State in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

Virginia has a very balanced offense that does not favor one single player. Realistically, the Cavaliers could have five players score 10 points just as easily as one player going off for 25 points. Virginia would rather have the former, but because of players like senior guard Joe Harris, sophomore forward Anthony Gill and sophomore guard Malcolm Brogdon, the Cavaliers can have a one-game standout. All three of those players have reached double figures against the Memphis Tigers in the third round. The trio also shot better than 50 percent from the field.

Coach Tom Izzo‘s concern has to lie within this kind of stat. Normally, the Spartans can focus on taking out one single player and letting the remainder of the lineup beat them. This cannot and will not be the case against the Cavaliers. Virginia can have a slow day from one or two players and get a new career-high from any single player that touches the court. The Virginia offense can actually relax because there is no single player that has to get his. This unselfish play on offense helps the already outstanding defense. Virginia has big bodies from the guards to the forwards and does not back down from any single challenge. Adreian Payne will certainly be a key player for the Spartans, but if Virginia can slow him down just a bit, the Spartans’ offense could be greatly impacted. Memphis averaged more than 77 points per game this season and was held to only 60 points Sunday. That shows how much of a difference a solid defense can make.

There was a reason Virginia was picked as a No. 1 seed in the East region, and when the Cavaliers take on the Spartans, they will show everyone why.

Gregory T. Philson is a college basketball writer at Follow him on Twitter @GTPhilson, “Like” him on Facebook, and add him to your network on GoogleRead more here.

Check out East Regional tickets from PrimeSport to see the Spartans face off against the Cavaliers in what should be a highly competitive matchup.

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