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March Madness

Preview: 2 Virginia vs 7 Michigan State

Basketball Insiders Previews: 2 Virginia vs 7 Michigan State

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#2 – Virginia

Is Virginia back on track? Many people are arguing against a deep run for the Cavaliers. Most of the argument against the team centered on Justin Anderson struggling, but he’s getting back into form. Anderson scored 15 points on 4-6 shooting from the field and grabbed five rebounds. If the first round was any indication, the lack of a 25-plus-point win does not reflect on how well a team will do in the tournament. UVA still took care of business and did so going 21-25 from the free throw line, hauling in 34 rebounds and turning the ball over just 7 times. There will be no shortness of motivation as Tony Bennett and his squad will take the court against the Michigan State squad that knocked them out in the Elite Eight just one year ago. It will take a prototypical Virginia performance to push through to the sweet sixteen but Malcolm Brogdon, Darion Atkins, London Perrantes, Anthony Gill and Anderson have enough firepower to get it done.

– Cody Toppert

#7 – Michigan State

Can anyone ever overlook the Tom Izzo-led Michigan State Spartans? This may not have been a top-ranked team all season, but the numbers confirm there’s strong defense being played in East Lansing. In addition, the Spartans are turning the ball over less and less as the season progresses. They are almost on par with last year’s team in terms of turnovers per game, and that 2013-14 team took care of the ball at the best rate in Izzo’s tenure. Leading the charge in 2014-15 is Travis Trice (14+ PPG), followed by Branden Dawson, and Denzel Valentine (14+ PPG) – two seniors and a junior respectively, with NCAA tournament experience. Dawson is going to finish his career at MSU as a top-10 rebounding – that says a lot for a guy battling back from a knee injury. Dawson and current Golden State Warrior forward Draymond Green are the only players in school history to rank in Top 10 in Spartan career rebounds, blocks and steals. Dawson was key in State’s win over a tough Georgia team. If one more player outside that trio can step up again versus Virginia – perfect on the year when four or more players produce double figures (Dawson, Trice, Valentine, Forbes in double figures vs. Georgia) – the Spartans are going to be a tough out. But what else is new?

– Dan Barto

Who Wins?

Yannis Koutroupis: Virginia wins

Cody Toppert: Virginia wins

Dan Barto: Michigan State wins

Dan Barto has been with the IMG Academy basketball program since 2003. Prior to becoming the Head Skills Trainer, Barto was the IMG Academy basketball program’s Developmental Head Coach. Dan has trained over 100 current or former NBA players and coached over 40 Division I players. You can follow IMG on Twitter @IMGAcademy or on Facebook here.

Cody Toppert is a former standout player at Cornell University (one of the top three-point shooters in Ivy League history), who played eight years professionally (NBA D-League, Spain, Italy, Germany) and now serves as the Director of Basketball Development at ELEV|8 Sports Institute (Ganon Baker Basketball Academy). He trains professional players (five 2015 NBA Draftees) and coaches prep schoolers for Ganon Baker’s nationally ranked prep school program. Toppert also serves as a contributing writer for FastModel Sports. You can follow Cody and ELEV|8 on social media @Topp33 and @E8hoops.

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