Skip to content

Virginia’s season was special regardless of when they lost in the NCAA tournament

Mar 29, 2014, 5:32 AM EDT

Travis Trice Travis Trice

NEW YORK — Virginia had a phenomenal season, and there is simply no way to go about arguing that fact.

Standard college hoops ideology will tell you differently. The No. 1 seed Cavaliers lost to No. 4 Michigan State in the semifinals of the East Region, 61-59, and the given the way that we look at tournament departures in this event, the bottom line is going to be that Tom Izzo and the Spartans pulled off the upset against Virginia, the top-seeded team in the East Region.

It will be discussed at length on Sportscenter. The myriad of radio interviews that national writers have lined up for the mid-Atlantic stations on Saturday and Sunday morning will undoubtedly be centered on the fact that the dual-ACC champs were unable to get past the Sweet 16 in their first season as a contender under Tony Bennett.

It’s a fair discussion to have. When you get knocked out of the tournament in the Sweet 16 as a No. 1 seed, people are always going to have questions to ask.

But that doesn’t mean that the questions are always going to be fair, and it does mean that any lingering doubts that the good folks of Charlottesville, VA, are going to be validated in their frustration with yet another disappointing finish to a successful season.

Because, when it comes down to it, the difference between Virginia winning an advancing to the Elite 8 and Virginia losing in the Sweet 16 came down to a pair of three pointers.

Malcolm Brogdon and Joe Harris led the way for the Cavs with 17 points, but it was a missed three from Harris midway through the second half that ended up being the difference maker.

With 10:39 left in the game, Harris got a wide-open look from the right wing that would have put Virginia up 43-36 at a time when the Spartans had managed just 13 points in the previous 18 minutes of basketball. That three wouldn’t have been a dagger, but it would have been a momentum-changer, the kind of basket that could simply take the wind out of Michigan State’s sails.

Instead, the miss sparked a 15-4 Spartan run, with five layups or dunks sandwiching a three-pointer from Travis Trice. Payne and Dawson were responsible for ten of the 15 points Virginia would make a run of their own, tying the game on a three from Justin Anderson with less than two minutes left, but once again it was Payne and Dawson coming up big. Payne hit a three to give the Spartans a 54-51 lead, and on the ensuing possession he threw a lob to Dawson that game Michigan State a five-point lead in the final minute.

That was the difference.

Those two three-pointers.

Maybe it’s luck. Maybe it’s the fact that Michigan State’s guards are just that much more equipped for handling the moment. Maybe it’s simply the fact that the Spartans dug too deep of a hole. The bottom-line is that Michigan State advanced and Iowa State didn’t.

And while it’s fair to be upset about the result, it’s difficult to quibble with the fact that the Spartans were simply better prepared for the weekend.

Latest Posts
  1. Former St. John’s center visiting Minnesota this weekend

    Jul 3, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    Chris Obekpa AP

    Minnesota is one of four schools the 6-foot-10 center is reportedly considering.

  2. Four-star point guard Alterique Gilbert to announce college decision Saturday

    Jul 3, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Nike Elite Youth Basketball League Getty Images

    The lone school to host the Georgia native on an official visit is considered to be the favorite in this recruiting race.

  3. Oregon releases non-conference schedule that includes four NCAA tournament teams

    Jul 2, 2015, 7:40 PM EDT

    Dana Altman AP

    Oregon still has a date to fill (December 29), which the school expects to be filled by an in-state opponent.

  4. MAAC announces change to conference tournament format

    Jul 2, 2015, 5:50 PM EDT

    Hampton v Manhattan Getty Images

    Nine programs voted for the change, with Manhattan voting against it and Quinnipiac abstaining.

  5. Re-ranking the recruiting classes: Who are the 25 best players in the Class of 2007?

    Jul 2, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps

    The Class of 2007 produced some very good players, including one who’s an NBA MVP and others who have developed into perennial all-stars.

  6. Tennessee unveils new Nike jersey designs (PHOTOS)

    Jul 2, 2015, 2:53 PM EDT

    UTSports.com UTSports.com

    I’m a big fan of these, particularly the dark grey ones.

  7. Cal lost two commitments, including a top 75 recruit, on Wednesday

    Jul 2, 2015, 9:27 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The Golden Bears should still be alright this season.

  8. Former California commit headed to Oklahoma State

    Jul 1, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT

    Travis Ford Travis Ford

    Dillard becomes Oklahoma State’s fourth addition to the program.

  9. United States U19 team rolls past Argentina at FIBA World Championships

    Jul 1, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    Nike Elite Youth Basketball League Getty Images

    Next up for the United States is Italy, and they could run into hosts Greece in the semifinals.

  10. San Diego State signee requests release from National Letter of Intent

    Jul 1, 2015, 8:10 PM EDT

    Steve Fisher AP

    Jones recently received his qualifying score on the SAT, only to inform SDSU that he wanted to be released from his NLI.

  11. Former Illinois women’s basketball players file lawsuit against athletic director, head coach and former assistant

    Jul 1, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    Matt Bollant (AP Photo) AP

    AD Mike Thomas stated in May that there would be an investigation into the allegations.

  12. Re-ranking the recruiting classes: Who are the 25 best players from the Class of 2006?

    Jul 1, 2015, 5:03 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    KD, Stephen and Russ lead the way, and two of those three weren’t even ranked coming out of high school.

  13. Three-star 2015 forward Roman Davis commits to California

    Jul 1, 2015, 4:50 PM EDT

    Cuonzo Martin AP

    Cal already has two members of its 2015 class on campus, and they added another to the mix Wednesday.

  14. Is a seven-foot Greek center considering playing college ball in the US?

    Jul 1, 2015, 3:54 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    He’s currently teammates with a soon-to-be Oregon Duck. Hmm …

  15. Cincinnati lands two commitments on Wednesday

    Jul 1, 2015, 1:53 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    That makes three commitments in 24 hours for Cincinnati.

  16. Penn State lands commitment from UConn transfer

    Jul 1, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Terrence Samuel was recruited over at UConn.