So, it all comes down to this. All of the missed free throws, all of the exasperation, Blake Froling nearly getting mauled at the Big Ten Tourney, it all comes down to Tony Bennett and the Virginia Cavaliers.
There are the three players for MSU that everyone knows have to step up, we’re not focusing on them. Instead, today’s victory rests solely on the shoulders of the role players — Bryn Forbes, Marvin Clark and Matt Costello specifically.
Forbes has the capability to shoot the ball lights out. When he is shooting well, this team is of a different caliber. His spacing the floor allows Branden Dawson to operate efficiently down low, it opens the offensive side of the floor up.
Clark has shown spurts of being quite a talent to watch for MSU. A lefty with a jumper that can finish with authority around the rim, it is going to be fun to see where he’s at this time next year. Today, if Clark can finish with near double-digit points and boards, he will be a pest to Virginia. If he gets a block or two, watch out. The Spartans feed off energy plays like that.
Speaking of Dawson, look for Virginia to key in on him after last year’s 24-point 10-rebound game. The players that will attempt this lockdown? Justin Anderson of Virginia possibly. Him, and Anthony Gill. If Dawson is locked down, the Spartans must find alternate avenues of offense like, Costello.
While you may never hear anyone remark on what an athletic play Costello made, he plays the game hard in the right way. MSU needs at least a double-double out of Mr. Costello today in order to have a chance at the upset. He must, must stay out of foul trouble.
Prediction: If Michigan State can play 40 minutes of great basketball, not 37 like against the Wisconsin Badgers, they can upset the Cavaliers. It is going to be a grind it out, defense-first kind of game.
Final Score: MSU 52, Virginia 48.