Syracuse, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Tom Izzo and Michigan State are heading back to the Final Four, this time as a No. 7 seed.
The unheralded Spartans survived Louisville 76-70 in overtime on Sunday to cut down the nets at the Carrier Dome as champions of the East Region.
Mangok Mathiang had a chance to put Louisville ahead with 4.9 seconds left in regulation, but the 48.0 percent free throw shooter only made the first of his two free throws. The Spartans never trailed in overtime and are heading to Indianapolis next weekend to face South Region champ Duke.
Michigan State (27-11) faced an eight-point deficit at halftime before locking down defensively. Louisville was limited to 18.8 percent (6-of-32) shooting after the break to fall short of reaching its third Final Four in four years.
Instead the Spartans are regional champs for the seventh time under Izzo, who won the chess match against Hall-of-Fame coach Rick Pitino thanks in part to a deep bench that outscored its counterparts 26-5.
"As a football fan, we're not going to Disney, but we are going to Indy. We're excited about it," Izzo said. "I'm just happy and proud and excited."
Travis Trice scored a team-high 17 points, Denzel Valentine added 15 and Bryn Forbes led MSU's reserves with 14. Branden Dawson chipped in with nine points and 11 rebounds and provided a big putback late in OT.
Dawson also helped shut down Montrezl Harrell, who scored 12 points over the first 11 minutes but was held without a field goal the rest of the way. Harrell finished with 16 points, Wayne Blackshear poured in 28 and Terry Rozier added 13 on 23 shots.
"I think we got away from what was getting us buckets in the first half," said Blackshear, who Pitino said was throwing up at halftime. "We got away from our offense for a while and just started going one-on-one and not going to the offensive glass."
After hitting a 3-pointer to pull the fourth-seeded Cardinals (27-9) within 63-62 late in regulation, Blackshear was fouled in transition and made the tying and go-ahead three throws with 1:13 on the clock.
Marvin Clark Jr. answered by banking in a contested shot in the lane, then was fouled going after a missed Rozier jumper. Clark, a 72.2 percent foul shooter, missed both free throws with 21.4 seconds left.
Rozier took a quick runner that drew iron, but Mathiang grabbed the offensive rebound and threw up a shot that narrowly rimmed out. The whistle blew, however, and his 1-of-2 showing at the foul line tied it at 65-65.
Trice's halfcourt heave caromed hard off the backboard to force OT, which opened with Forbes hitting a 3-pointer in the corner. Forbes had another open look from the same spot late in OT with the Spartans leading 72-70 and missed. Dawson, though, was in the right spot for the rebound and banked in a pivotal putback with under a minute to play.
"The shot looked good," Dawson recalled. "When it came off, (I was) in the right place at the right time. The ball came to me, and I went up. And I was falling down at the same time. ... It was great just to get that offensive rebound. It was great for this team and for myself. So it feels good."
A turnover at the other end followed by two Trice free throws started the party in East Lansing.
The first half went back-and-forth before Louisville took control after the midway point. Blackshear made three 3-pointers over the span of six possessions, and MSU was held scoreless over the final four minutes.
The Cardinals took a 40-32 lead into the break, but the intermission cooled off them off considerably. They missed nine of their first 10 shots -- the only make coming on Rozier's steal and uncontested dunk -- and a 10-0 run put the Spartans in front with eight minutes left in regulation.
Forbes and Trice made back-to-back 3-pointers for a 57-51 lead, and MSU stayed ahead until a frantic sequence down the stretch.
The Spartans eliminated the second (Virginia), third (Oklahoma) and fourth (Louisville) seeds of the East Region ... This is the lowest seeded team Izzo has taken to the Final Four ... The Spartans are 13-9 in the NCAA Tournament as the lower seed under Izzo ... Walk-on Dillon Avare made a free throw after a nose bleed forced Blackshear to the bench with 3:38 left in regulation ... MSU had 20 assists on 26 made baskets ... Eight of the 11 lead changes came in the first half ... These teams also met in the 2009 and 2012 NCAA Tournament, with each program winning once ... Louisville was looking for its 11th trip to the Final Four.