What an accomplishment for Tom Izzo and Michigan State. Without its best player, Michigan State is able to defeat Northern Iowa and Tennessee to advance to the Final Four. The Spartans move on to face fellow No. 5 seed Butler.
As for Tennessee, it really was a great season. This is the first Volunteer team to ever make the Elite Eight, which is a huge accomplishment. Bruce Pearl is really building something special at Tennessee.
Second half, 0:01, Michigan State 70-69: A great pass down low by Green, but I'm not sure about that foul call. It seemed like the ref anticipated a foul.
Second half, 0:11, 69-69: Hopson is taking quite a while to get to the free throw line – but he hits the first one. This next one will be the big one.
Second half, 0:28, Michigan State 69-68: Rebounding and free throw shooting are so key down the stretch.
Second half, 1:08, Michigan State 69-68: Tennessee is picking up full court. Why didn't it do this sooner?
Second half, 1:56, Michigan State 69-68: Great offensive board and putback by Brian Williams. He is a load on the block.
Second half, 2:09, Michigan State 69-68: You cannot leave Summers. He is by far Michigan State's best shooter.
Second half, 3:20, 66-66: Nothing is given to you in the NCAA Tournament. Whichever team makes more plays down the stretch will move on. The other will go home.
Second half, 3:20, 66-66: This is the way it should be. Game tied up with less than four minutes to play and a trip to the Final Four on the line.
Second half, 4:08, Michigan State 66-64: Two ugly free throws by Brian Williams. If this game is close down the stretch, he may have to get off the floor.
Second half, 4:31, Michigan State 66-64: Draymond Green is having a big game. He has 13 points now.
Second half, 4:46, Tennessee 64-63: Summers has stepped up in Lucas' absence.
Second half, 6:34, Michigan State 61-60: I asked for it and I got it. The Vols picked up their man-to-man defense full-court. Michigan State was able to bring the ball over midcourt, but it was not pretty. The Vols should keep the pressure on.
Second half, 7:00, Michigan State 61-59: Tennessee is doing a great job of putting pressure on the ball, but it is not forcing many turnovers and not really getting Michigan State to play out of control. I would love to see the Vols put on a full-court press to see if they can get the Spartans to turn it over.
Second half, 8:32, Michigan State 59-55: Beautiful use of the zone by Tennessee. Using different defenses is a terrific way to throw an offense out of whack.
Second half, 9:02, Michigan State 59-55: Sometimes it can be tough for a small forward to give the ball to a guard during the break, but you need to do it. The fast break will be much more effective with a guard pushing the ball up the court.
Second half, 9:18, Michigan State 59-55: Steven Pearl should have given that ball up earlier. Running the break is not a strength of his.
Second half, 10:24, Michigan State 59-55: A good call against Michigan State, but Tennessee is already in the bonus. That could be a factor down the stretch.
Second half, 11:15, Michigan State 59-53: On Saturday, the two lower seeds advanced to the Final Four. Michigan State is looking to end that trend, but Tennessee will not go away easily.
Second half, 11:54, Michigan State 56-51: I told you Prince would not be out for too long. Bruce Pearl cannot afford to keep him on the bench. He does too many things well.
Second half, 12:16, Michigan State 56-51: The Spartans trailed at the half in their previous game against Northern Iowa. Can it overcome two consecutive halftime deficits to advance to the Final Four?
Second half, 12:16, Michigan State 56-51: Undeterred by missing his first five 3-point attempts, Michigan State's Korie Lucious cans a 3.
Second half, 12:41, Michigan State 53-51: Wow, another nickel-dimer called against the Spartans. That's fine, so long as it's called both ways, which it does not seem to be.
Second half, 13:50, 51-51: You never like to see an airball from the free throw line, but Williams regroups and hits the second attempt. Good composure.
Second half, 14:13, Michigan State 51-50: Tennessee looked like it was running the clock down on its last possession. I'm not sure what that was all about.
Second half, 15:11, 50-50: Also of note is the fact that J.P. Prince is on the bench with three fouls. Prince does everything well, especially play defense. My guess is that he does not sit for too long.
Second half, 15:11, 50-50: The shooting touch is back, as Michigan State and Tennessee trade several deep jumpers. Wayne Chism is now 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.
Second half, 16:20, Tennessee 47-42: J.P. Prince with another alley-oop. He looks like his is jumping off a trampoline. Prince is 4-for-4 from the floor — all dunks.
Second half, 16:47, Tennessee 45-42: Durrell Summers picks up his third on a silly body check against Chism. Michigan State really needs Summers' scoring ability on the floor.
Second half, 17:58, Tennessee 43-40: The refs let the small stuff go in the first half, but they have blown two quick whistles against the Spartans in the second half. It will be interesting to see how the refs call it from here on out.
Second half, 19:17, Tennessee 41-40: After hitting its first five 3-point attempts of the game, Tennessee misses its first 3-pointer of the second half.
Second half, 19:52, Tennessee 41-39: Michigan State and Tennessee are underway in the second half. The winner of this one will square off against Butler in the Final Four.
End of first half, Tennessee 41-39: That was an extremely even first half. The biggest difference was shooting. The Vols shot 6-for-9 from beyond the arc, while the Spartans were only 2-for-9.
The only other discrepancy was in offensive rebounding. The Spartans were able to grab nine offensive boards. Michigan State relies on offensive rebounds to score points, so the Vols will need to do a better job of boxing out in the second half.
End of first half, Tennessee 41-39: Great way to execute on the inbounds play to end the half. Draymond Green with a face-cut in front of Chism and he has the strength to finish.
First half, 0:30, Tennessee 41-37: Prince really ran that break well, finding Chism under the basket for two.
First half, 0:51, Tennessee 39-37: Tennessee needs halftime. Its bigs look tired out there. Chism and Williams are not even blocking out on the defensive end. They are just relying on their height. Luckily for them they have an extended break coming up.
First half, 1:21, Tennessee 39-37: Nice offensive rebounding for Michigan State. It's all about keeping the ball alive on that end.
First half, 2:17, Tennessee 37-35: Draymond Green is a big for Michigan State, but he loves to hit the 12-footer, which he just did. Tennessee needs to get out on him.
First half, 3:05, Tennessee 37-33: The Vols are finally in the bonus. Michigan State is still one foul away. The game has been officiated very evenly so far.
First half, 3:36, Tennessee 34-33: Just as I said there were not many turnovers, the Spartans stole the ball twice in a row. It's like they heard me.
The hot shooting has cooled down a little, but that was to be expected. Still, both teams are shooting better than 50 percent from the floor.
First half, 5:20, Tennessee 34-33: Both sides are getting away with a little extra physical play. So far this is not an issue, but the refs need to keep everything under control.
First half, 6:10, Tennessee 32-31: Prince almost hit his head on the rim on that alley-oop.
First half, 6:45, Tennessee 30-29: So far, this has been a very clean game. There have not been many fouls or turnovers. Of course, just as I say that, Michigan State strips J.P. Prince and goes down for the hoop and the harm.
First half, 7:02, Tennessee 30-26: Michigan State's defense has started to pick it up. The problem is that Tennessee is so long, the Spartans are having trouble matching up with them.
First half, 9:34, Tennessee 26-22: I'm not sure if Michigan State's defensive problems are the result of the players or the coaches. After all, if I was Tom Izzo, I would rather let the Vols shoot deep jumpers than drive to the basket. Tennessee will not continue to hit shots all game.
First half, 10:28, Tennessee 24-22: Tennessee hits another 3. The Spartans are not having any trouble scoring without Kalin Lucas, but they are sure having difficulty on the defensive end.
First half, 11:13, 21-21: Tom Izzo is 5-1 in regional finals, but he cannot like the fact that his Spartans have allowed the Volunteers to shoot 8-for-10 from the floor so far.
First half, 11:57, Michigan State 21-19: The Vols with another 3-pointer. Why not? They are now 5-for-5 from behind the arc.
First half, 13:03, Michigan State 18-16: I love a good backdoor cut, this by Michigan State. Even better when it's finished off by a nice flush.
First half, 14:12, 16-16: After a prolonged period without a whistle, both squads just made some substitutions to get fresh bodies on the floor.
First half, 14:48, 16-16: This is an offensive clinic. The Spartans are 6-for-8 from the field, including 2-for-2 from 3-point land. The Vols are even better. They have hit all six of their shots, including four 3-pointers. Wow, what a hot start by both teams.
First half, 15:37, 14-14: What is this? Both teams are on fire. Who is going to cool off first?
First half, 17:03, Tennessee 11-8: You MUST make Wayne Chism put the ball on the floor. He is a terrific stand-still shooter. He has two 3s already.
First half, 18:10, Tennessee 6-4: Tennessee bangs two quick 3s. The Vols are not a great 3-point shooting team, but they do need to hit some from beyond the arc.
First half, 19:28, Tennessee 3-0: Michigan State and Tennessee are underway in St. Louis. Tom Izzo is terrific in the Tourney, but can he really bring the Spartans to the Final Four without their best player?
2:12 p.m.: The Spartans and Volunteers are just a few minutes away from tip-off. Can Tennessee reach the Final Four for the first time ever, or will Tom Izzo advance to the Final Four for the sixth time?
8 a.m.: When the NCAA Tournament bracket was announced, everyone said the Midwest Region was the most difficult. It turns out that everyone was right, but for all the wrong reasons. On Sunday, No. 5 Michigan State and No. 6 Tennessee will do battle with a trip to the Final Four on the line.
The Midwest Region was supposed to be stacked at the top. However, none of the top four seeds from the Region reached the Elite Eight. Kansas, Ohio State, Georgetown and Maryland all fell short. The region is left with a team whose best player recently ruptured his Achilles (Michigan State), and a team who kicked one of its best players off the team midway through the season (Tennessee).
Michigan State overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to defeat Northern Iowa and advance to the Elite Eight. If the No. 5 Spartans are able to reach the Final Four, they will have done so without having to play any of the top three seeds in the Region.
Tennessee is fresh off an upset victory over No. 2 Ohio State. This is the first time the Volunteers have ever made the Elite Eight. Two months ago, after an ugly traffic stop that resulted in several arrests, the Final Four seemed like a pipe dream for Tennessee. Now it is a very real possibility.
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