The Michigan State Spartans are headed to the third round of the NCAA Tournament following their convincing 65-54 win over Valparaiso on Thursday afternoon. Despite only winning by 11, the final outcome was never really in question.
At one point in the first half, the score was tied at eight. Michigan State really turned it on after that, imposing its size and strength advantage on both ends of the court. Tom Izzo's squad ended the half on a 27-10 run, pushing its lead to 35-18 at the break.
It was more of the same for the Spartans in the second half. Valparaiso just couldn't grab a rebound on the defensive end -- the Crusaders were out-rebounded by 24 -- and the length of MSU's wings had their shooters fits all game.
This play was a pretty solid microcosm of the last 30 minutes:
Derrick Nix had a monster game for MSU, leading the way with 21 points and 15 rebounds. The undersized Crusaders just had no answer for Nix in the paint. Keith Appling chipped in with 15 points and did not turn the ball over.
Valparaiso was unable to get much of anything going offensive. Erik Buggs was the leading scorer with 14 points. As a team, the Crusaders shot 33 percent from the floor and made just seven free throws.
With the win, Michigan State advances to play the winner of Memphis and Saint Mary's. That game will be played on Saturday afternoon. You can find an updated, printable bracket here, courtesy of your friends at SB Nation.
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