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Connecticut (29-8) vs. Michigan State (29-8)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Sunday, March 30, 2:20 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Madison Square Garden (19,673) -- New York, New York. Television: CBS. NCAA Record: Connecticut 55-29, Michigan State 59-26. Series Record: Connecticut leads, 3-2.

GAME NOTES: After toppling top-seeded Virginia on Friday, the Michigan State Spartans will face the upstart Connecticut Huskies in the East Region Final at New York's famed Madison Square Garden.

Led by American Athletic Player of the Year Shabazz Napier, UConn has been playing above the No. 7 seed it earned in this tournament. The Huskies knocked off third-seeded Iowa State (81-76) in the Sweet 16, following a 77-65 upset of second-seeded Villanova. They are now attempting to reach the Final Four just three years removed from their surprising run to the 2011 national title.

The Sweet 16 battle between Michigan State and Virginia was as advertised, with the fourth-seeded Spartans surviving with a 61-59 victory. The win was the sixth straight for Tom Izzo's club, which includes their run to the Big Ten Tournament title. The Spartans are back in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2010, which was also the last time they made it to the Final Four.

The 2010 trip to the Final Four was the second straight for MSU, which actually defeated UConn (82-73) in the 2009 semifinals before falling to North Carolina in the national title tilt. These teams have met twice since, with UConn winning both times to pull ahead in the all-time series, 3-2.

The winner this time will take on No. 1 overall seed Florida in the Final Four next Saturday.

UConn dominated in the first half and then held on in the second to pull off the upset of Iowa State. The Huskies led by as many as 17 points and shot 52 percent for the game, while holding scoring edges from both 3-point range (27-18) and the free-throw line (20-6).

DeAndre Daniels (13 ppg, 5.8 rpg) came up big in the win, controlling the paint with a team-high 27 points to go with 10 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. Daniels is clearly the most productive performer in close to the basket for the Huskies, who rely more on their talented backcourt. At the forefront of that game plan is Napier. The 6-foot-1 guard, who was a freshman on the 2011 national title squad, leads this year's team in scoring (17.9 ppg), assists (4.9 apg), rebounding (5.9 rpg) and steals (1.8 spg). Ryan Boatright (12.1 ppg, 3.4 apg) and Niels Giffey (8.4 ppg, .514 3P percentage) provide depth and offensive punch out on the perimeter.

After trading leads during the first 38 minutes of action on Friday, Michigan State was tied with Virginia at 51-51 with 1:49 to play. The Spartans then got a 3-pointer from Adreian Payne and a dunk from Branden Dawson to take control of the game, as they held on by hitting 5-of-7 free-throws in the final minute.

Dawson compiled 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Payne had 16 points in the win over Virginia, as the frontcourt tandem powered Michigan State not just in that key stretch, but the entire game. The rest of the team managed only 23 points on 7-of-19 shooting. Leading the charge offensively is not a rare occurrence for Payne (16.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg), who is second on the roster in scoring, but getting such a productive effort from Dawson (11.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg) was a surprise, considering he is more of a complementary scorer. To defeat the Huskies, the Spartans will need better play from their key backcourt contributors -- Gary Harris (16.6 ppg) and Keith Appling (11.4 ppg, 4.5 apg), who combined for a mere eight points against Virginia.

Although this is technically a neutral-site affair, there is no question that UConn has a bit of an edge playing at Madison Square Garden. However, the Huskies are too thin inside to expect to overpower Michigan State like they did Iowa State. As long as Harris and Appling return to form, the Spartans' superior balance should win out.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan State 76, Connecticut 69

03/30 10:36:39 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
3rd
CAR 10
CLE 6
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
CAR
3:30pm Today
TOR
NYK
4:30pm Today
CLE
MEM
6:00pm Tonight
MIA
BOS
6:00pm Tonight
BRK
DET
6:00pm Tonight
SAC
LAL
6:00pm Tonight
ORL
PHI
6:00pm Tonight
WAS
PHO
7:00pm Tonight
MIN
IND
7:00pm Tonight
OKC
NOP
Final
UVA 76
HARV 27
Final
BGU 68
FERST 82
 
1st OT
ARMY 65
MAINE 65
 
Final
QUIN 60
ORST 52
 
1st OT
CLST 66
USF 64
 
2nd
CARK 51
CCAR 68
 
2nd
UWGB 46
ARKLR 31
 
2nd
RAD 43
CORN 38
 
2nd
UNT 41
CREI 24
 
2nd
CAN 28
HC 23
 
2nd
USB 35
GHND 35
 
2nd
OKST 34
MD 47
 
2nd
WINT 52
REIN 38
 
2nd
UGST 43
SMISS 33
 
2nd
NEOM 49
TXPA 35
 
2nd
STLU 31
VERM 30
 
2nd
UNCA 38
WCU 29
 
Half
EVAN 47
ALAST 49
 
Half
HART 42
FIU 31
 
1st
VALPO 31
GOSHEN 22
 
1st
LIP 3
PEAY 2
 
1st
DEN 0
BRY 0
 
1st
MONT 4
SD 4
 
1st
MTST 4
TENST 0
 
3:00pm Today
SAMF
LAMON
 
3:30pm Today
SCAR
COKR
 
4:00pm Today
HAMP
NARZ
 
4:00pm Today
SDU
SDCHR
 
4:00pm Today
BC
USC
4:30pm Today
NICST
TROY
 
4:30pm Today
BRAD
UCI
 
6:00pm Tonight
UGA
SHU
6:30pm Tonight
ALA
APP
7:00pm Tonight
KSU
NDST
 
7:00pm Tonight
WASU
SJST
9:00pm Tonight
UTEP
ALCOR
 
10:00pm Tonight
SEAT
SACST
 
6:00pm Tonight
DET
COL
6:00pm Tonight
EDM
DAL
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
BUF
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
CAR
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
TOR
9:00pm Tonight
WIN
PHI
3rd
NOS 7
ATL 20
 
3rd
HOU 16
BAL 7
 
3rd
CAR 10
CLE 6
 
3rd
CHI 14
DET 10
 
4th
TAM 3
GBP 13
 
3rd
PIT 16
KAN 6
 
3rd
MIA 14
MIN 17
 
4th
NYJ 13
NEP 10
 
4:05pm Today
STL
NYG
4:25pm Today
OAK
BUF
4:25pm Today
DAL
IND
8:30pm Tonight
ARI
SEA