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. Austin Hatch’s inspirational basketball career has come to a close

    Apr 27, 2015, 10:17 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Hatch is one of the most inspirational people you will ever hear about

  2. UPDATED: 2015-2016 College Basketball Way-Too-Early Preseason Rankings

    Apr 27, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Marcus Paige (Getty Images) Getty Images

    The return of Buddy Hield pushes previously unranked Oklahoma into our way too early rankings.

  3. 2015 College Basketball Updated Early Entry List

    Apr 27, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Who’s going pro? Who’s returning to school? Who are we still waiting to hear from?

  4. Texas A&M adds former USF point guard, eligible immediately

    Apr 26, 2015, 8:45 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Collins averaged 7.1 points and 5.2 assists per game last season, and his arrival could lead to Alex Caruso getting more scoring opportunities off the ball.

  5. Alcorn State announces hiring of Montez Robinson as head coach

    Apr 26, 2015, 7:35 PM EDT

    Bethune-Cookman Athletics Bethune-Cookman Athletics

    Robinson has quite the rebuilding job on his hands, but guard LeAntwan Luckett (16.3 ppg) is one of the team’s top four scorers who have eligibility remaining.

  6. Former Arizona State signee headed to Washington

    Apr 26, 2015, 7:05 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Dominic Green was released from his National Letter of Intent to Arizona State a couple weeks ago.

  7. New NCAA VP of Division I governance wants to take closer look at graduate ‘transfer’ rules

    Apr 26, 2015, 6:02 PM EDT

    NCAA_Logo AP

    In addition to making graduates sit out a year, there’s also consideration of the idea that schools can restrict where they can go.

  8. Top 100 point guard headed to Iowa State

    Apr 26, 2015, 4:05 PM EDT

    Fred Hoiberg Fred Hoiberg

    Nick Noskowiak joins former Arkansas guard Nick Babb as players who have committed to Iowa State this month.

  9. Kennesaw State hires former Boston College head coach Al Skinner

    Apr 26, 2015, 2:29 PM EDT

    Skinner_web

    Skinner was the longtime coach of Boston College.

  10. New Alabama head coach Avery Johnson touring with Nick Saban

    Apr 26, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Avery Johnson AP

    Avery Johnson is touring with Nick Saban to get more familiar with being a head coach at Alabama.

  11. UAA Day 2: The return of Seventh Woods; Markelle Fultz is the real deal; Josh Jackson’s up-and-down day

    Apr 26, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    (Kelly Kline/Under Armour) (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

    The Under Armour Association has plenty of talented players in its league this season, including former mixtape star Seventh Woods and the No. 1 player in the Class of 2016, Josh Jackson.

  12. Nike EYBL Day 2: Malik Monk gets busy; Harry Giles has a quiet outing; Wendell Carter steps up

    Apr 26, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    (USA Baketball) (USA Baketball)

    Malik Monk had a dominating effort on Saturday while Harry Giles didn’t make much of an impact.

  13. No. 1 in Class of 2016 Josh Jackson has a monster outing at Under Armour Association (VIDEO)

    Apr 26, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    (Kelly Kline/Under Armour) (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

    Josh Jackson went for 41 points, seven assists and six rebounds at the Under Armour Association.

  14. Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor returning for junior season

    Apr 25, 2015, 10:19 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Taylor averaged 13.1 points and 4.6 assists per game last season, and his decision to return is a nice boost for head coach Shaka Smart.

  15. Iowa State hosts three players, including two who would be eligible immediately

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:55 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Graduate students Max Bielfeldt and Tyler Harris were in Ames this weekend, as was former Marquette commit Nick Noskowiak.

  16. Manhattan adds former Ball State point guard Zavier Turner

    Apr 25, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Ball State v Marquette Getty Images

    Turner won MAC Rookie of the Year honors in 2013-14.

  17. Former Rutgers forward transfers to Tulsa

    Apr 25, 2015, 5:59 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Junior Etou averaged 7.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last season.

  18. Former Memphis forward transferring to Alabama

    Apr 25, 2015, 4:33 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    King averaged 7.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last season at Memphis.