2014 NCAA Tournament Preview: No. 4 Michigan State vs No. 7 Connecticut
Friday night capped off a terrific night of college hoops as there were many surprise victories. The Michigan State Spartans and Connecticut Huskies were two of the teams that won in what can be considered ‘upset’ fashion.
In the second game of the night, the No. 7 seed Huskies faced off against the No. 3 seed Iowa State Cyclones and the game seemed to be controlled all night long by Connecticut. DeAndre Daniels and Shabazz Napier put the Cyclones away early as a double-digit lead in the first half was a sign of things to come. This is Connecticut’s first Elite Eight since 2011.
No. 4 Michigan State had a tough matchup with the defensive-minded and top-seeded Virginia Cavaliers. It looked like the second half was in Virginia’s favor, but the Spartans proved to be more experienced and a bit too much for the Cavaliers to handle, closing out a victory.
The Spartans have now won six consecutive games and are in great shape to make their first Final Four since 2010. Connecticut is looking to make it’s fourth Final Four since 2004.
What to watch for
I have said it time and time again: Branden Dawson will be the difference. Michigan State’s wing man has been stellar in the tourney thus far, averaging 20 points and nine rebounds per game. Fun fact: Michigan State has not lost a game this season, 15-0, when Dawson scores more than 10 points.
As for Connecticut, Napier will be the key to a strong victory in the Elite Eight. The Huskies’ point guard is the leader of this team and he can take over a game, if need be. Napier reminds me a little of Kemba Walker when UConn made an improbable run to the Final Four and a national title in 2011.
Michigan State has just too much firepower for a team like the Huskies. While Connecticut has a star in Napier, they don’t have anyone that can really keep up with the size and athleticism of the Spartans.
Adreian Payne and Dawson will be able to do whatever they want down low if no one can step up and stay out of foul trouble. This one will be close early, but Michigan State will have it wrapped up near the end with a trip to Dallas in its future.
Michigan State 76, Connecticut 67
Connor Muldowney is the Content Associate for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at email@example.com.