Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

March 29, 2014

Spartans, Huskies one step closer

NEW YORK (AP) — Two programs very familiar of late with the NCAA tournament's round of eight will meet for the right to go to the Final Four.

Michigan State, the No. 4 seed that has become one of the favorites to win the title, and Connecticut, a No. 7 seed enjoying the underdog role, both won Friday night in the East Regional semifinals and they will play Sunday with the winner heading to North Dallas for the Final Four.

The Spartans (29-8) beat top-seeded Virginia 61-59 and gave a defensive clinic in the win.

Connecticut (29-8) advanced with an 81-76 victory over third-seeded Iowa State in a game where both teams were making a lot of shots.

Michigan State is in the round of eight for the eighth time since 1999 and the Spartans are 6-1 in those games.

Connecticut is in the round of eight for the ninth time since 1995 and the Huskies are 4-4 in those games.

Michigan State and Connecticut met in the national semifinals in 2009, an 82-73 victory for the Spartans.

If the Spartans play defense like they did against Virginia (30-7), holding the Cavaliers to 35.1 percent shooting, the final score shouldn't be like it was five years ago.

"I thought our half-court defense in general was maybe one of the best," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I thought once we were in the half court, ours might have been as best as we have had in a long, long time, to be honest with you."

Virginia came into the game leading the nation in points allowed per game at 55.5. The Cavaliers did a credible job against Michigan State on that end of the court, they just couldn't score.

The Spartans held the Cavaliers to 35.1 percent shooting (20 of 57), well off the 45.7 percent they shot during the season and nowhere near the 54.3 percent they shot in the two NCAA tournament games.

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