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. Four-star 2015 guard/forward narrows list to five

    Sep 18, 2014, 10:15 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Among the schools still in the running for this Top 100 prospect’s services is LSU.

  2. 2013 Sweet 16 run pays off in a big way financially for FGCU

    Sep 18, 2014, 8:43 PM EDT

    2013 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic - Florida Gulf Coast v Radford Getty Images

    FGCU’s Sweet 16 run in 2013 paid off in a big way for the athletic department.

  3. Missouri announces plans to renovate Mizzou Arena

    Sep 18, 2014, 7:04 PM EDT

    Kim Anderson, Mike Alden Kim Anderson, Mike Alden

    Mizzou Arena’s just ten years old, but the school has found some areas that need renovating.

  4. Former College of Charleston assistant joins staff at The Citadel

    Sep 18, 2014, 5:52 PM EDT

    Chuck Driesell, Tom Koopman Chuck Driesell, Tom Koopman

    Freeberg makes the move from the College of Charleston to The Citadel, with J.D. Powell headed in the opposite direction.

  5. Kentucky’s John Calipari offers his thoughts on USA Basketball critiques

    Sep 18, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT

    John Calipari AP

    Calipari tweeted that if the coaches gained an advantage from helping revitalize USA Basketball he “doesn’t begrudge them in the least.”

  6. Top-40 Class of 2015 guard sets a decision date

    Sep 18, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    kerwin roach AP

    An important member in a 2015 class lacking guards has set a decision date.

  7. Kentucky’s John Calipari gives away mattress, pillows to Big Blue Madness campers (VIDEO)

    Sep 18, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Taylor Strategy Taylor Strategy

    John Calipari helped some campers waiting for Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness sleep a little easier by giving away a mattress and some pillows.

  8. Baylor incoming recruit will not play in 2014-15

    Sep 18, 2014, 1:08 PM EDT

    Scott Drew AP

    Baylor will be without an incoming recruit for the 2014-15 season.

  9. Coach K responds to USA Basketball criticism during press conference

    Sep 18, 2014, 11:56 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Coach K responded to recent criticisms lobbied at him about unfair recruiting advantages as USA Basketball’s coach.

  10. A key piece for Providence is cleared for full-contact practice

    Sep 18, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Karvel Anderson, Kris Dunn AP

    Providence is hoping a key member of its backcourt will be healthy this season after two straight years with a shoulder injury.

  11. ACC program uses LeBron James’ Homecoming as recruiting tactic for local five-star wing

    Sep 18, 2014, 10:05 AM EDT

    (adidas) (adidas)

    One five-star prospect heard a recruiting pitch centered on LeBron James’ homecoming to Cleveland.

  12. Throwback Thursday: Vince Carter highlights at North Carolina (VIDEO)

    Sep 18, 2014, 9:10 AM EDT

    vince carter

    Vince Carter highlight reels are still the best.

  13. 2017 guard Trevon Duval’s freshman year mixtape (VIDEO)

    Sep 17, 2014, 11:25 PM EDT

    Jon Lopez/Nike Jon Lopez/Nike

    With Isaiah Briscoe moving on to the college ranks next summer, Duval could be the next elite guard produced by the Playaz Basketball Club.

  14. UAB to open season with third annual ‘Hoops on the Haasephalt’

    Sep 17, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptq5odriytgxyzrimznizmmymtbkzgnhmji1owvlyjhi AP

    Last year’s Hoops on the Haasephalt event attracted nearly 4,000 fans on the UAB campus.

  15. Top 2015 prospect emphatically states he’s ‘100 percent’ committed to attending LSU

    Sep 17, 2014, 8:26 PM EDT

    Ben Simmons (Kelly Kline/Under Armour) Ben Simmons (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

    Despite rumors to the contrary, one of the best players in the Class of 2015 is 100 percent committed to attending LSU next year.

  16. Wisconsin students waste no time purchasing tickets for 2014-15 season

    Sep 17, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT

    Bo Ryan Bo Ryan

    “The Grateful Red” snapped up every available ticket within five minutes Wednesday morning.

  17. Penn State begins preseason training with new strength & conditioning challenge (VIDEO)

    Sep 17, 2014, 4:55 PM EDT

    Patrick Chambers Patrick Chambers

    The Nittany Lions return five of their top six scorers from a team that finished the 2013-14 season with a 16-18 record (6-12 Big Ten).

  18. Jim Boeheim calls Yahoo’s Coach K story ‘completely off-base’

    Sep 17, 2014, 4:04 PM EDT

    Jim Boeheim AP

    Jim Boeheim is not one to bite his tongue around the media.

  19. DePaul lands second front court recruit this week

    Sep 17, 2014, 1:43 PM EDT

    DMVElite 80 DMVElite 80

    Is Oliver Purnell is tapping into a D.C. pipeline?