Charlotte, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Having survived to play another day, the seventh-seeded Michigan State Spartans and second-seeded Virginia Cavaliers get together in the third round of the East Region of the 2015 NCAA Tournament on Sunday afternoon from Time Warner Cable Arena.
The winner advances to the Sweet 16 to take on either No. 11 seed Dayton or No. 3 seed Oklahoma.
Michigan State improved to 7-0 in the NCAA Tournament against teams from the SEC under head coach Tom Izzo by outlasting 10th-seeded Georgia on Friday, 70-63. The win improved the Spartans to 24-11 on the season, and to 60-27 all- time in the tourney. MSU is appearing in its 18th consecutive NCAA Tournament, as the team is in search of its ninth trip to the Final Four, and third national title (1979, 2000).
Virginia's road to today's bout was a tough one as well, as the Belmont Bruins stood their ground in Friday's second-round clash before succumbing in a 79-67 final. The Cavaliers have been among the elite teams in the country all season long, the team logging an impressive 30-3 mark, and winning the ACC regular- season title with a 16-2 league ledger. UVA was a No. 1 seed in last year's NCAA Tournament where it advanced to the Sweet 16, and the team is 25-18 all- time in the event as it remains in the hunt for its third trip to the Final Four (1981, 1984).
This is the second straight year in which these two teams have met in the NCAA Tournament, with Michigan State prevailing in a Sweet 16 matchup in 2014, 61-59, at New York's famed Madison Square Garden.
Denzel Valentine and Travis Trice combined for 31 points and 12 assists to lead Michigan State to its second-round win over Georgia on Friday. Additional scoring support came from Branden Dawson and Bryn Forbes, who tallied 14 points apiece for a squad that shot 45.6 percent from the floor, hitting seven 3-pointers, but converting only 11-of-19 free throws. Conversely, the Bulldogs went 21-of-26 at the charity stripe, but were only 33.3 percent efficient on their field goal attempts, missing the mark on 10 of their 14 long-range launches in the process. UGA won the rebounding battle, 43-35, but was outscored in the paint (36-30), on the break (19-8) and in bench points (22-10).
Belmont shot the ball well in Friday's clash with Virginia, hitting 47.4 percent from the floor, including eight treys, but the Cavaliers used a 21-5 edge in points at the foul line coupled with a 45.6 percent shooting effort of their own to avoid the upset. UVA committed a mere seven turnovers in the game while claiming a 35-29 advantage on the glass. Malcolm Brogdon hit four 3- pointers on his way to a team-high 22 points, while Anthony Gill tacked on 16 points, Justin Anderson 15 and Darion Atkins 10 to go with seven rebounds for a Virginia squad that realizes it needs to crank up the pressure if it's going to continue on in this tournament.