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Friday, December 19, 2014


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Oh So Sweet Matchups


With a trip to the Elite Eight on the horizon, Friday's game will be won and lost in the post






Friday night’s game versus No. 1 seed Virginia, set to tip at about 10 p.m., has a lot on the line— including a trip to the Elite Eight and a shot at the Final Four for MSU seniors Adreian Payne and Keith Appling. MSU has to take care to stay out of foul trouble, protect the ball and score points against a stingy Virginia defense. However, the final score definitely could come down to the battle in the paint between the big men of the Spartans and the Cavaliers. Check out a breakdown here. ? ­­

— Matt Sheehan

Michigan State

MATT COSTELLO

The sophomore forward is MSU’s main big option off the bench, and he’s not a bad one to have. Costello has created his own “No Fly Zone” around the rim, leading the team with 41 blocks. He also does the dirty work, grabbing 3.5 rebounds per game. It would be a shock to see him at the top of the scoring charts in any game, but MSU has enough weapons to survive without relying on him.

ADREIAN PAYNE

There hardly is a debate over whether the 6-foot-10 senior is one of the best big men in the nation.

16.6 points per game.

7.3 rebounds per outing.

A 43.8 percent 3-point shooter.

Simply put, he can score from anywhere on the court.

However, Friday will be a test of how long and how good Payne can play against the physical front court Virginia will roll out possession after possession.

BRANDEN DAWSON

MSU only has lost two games when the junior forward starts, proving he turns the gears to this team. His defensive presence is suffocating, and his rebounding instincts are the best on the team. 

The jump shot isn’t all there, but the way he plays above the rim and works gritty in the post allowed him to score 20 points in the first half against Harvard.

That bodes well for MSU, as Dawson said Virginia’s big men remind him of Harvard’s.

Virginia

MIKE TOBEY

At 6-foot-11, the sophomore center is the tallest threat Virginia has to offer. Averaging 6.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, Tobey is a jack of all trades in the paint. 

His best strength is his presence on defense — he has a team-high 39 blocks. He has the ability to slightly stretch the floor with a mid-range jump shot, and he also runs the court as well as any other big man.

ANTHONY GILL

Coming off the bench, the 6-foot-8 forward is Virginia’s best inside scoring option, and he has the numbers to prove it. Gill averages 8.8 points per game and is selective with his shots, shooting an efficient clip of 59.8 percent.

His defense isn’t showstopping by any means, but on the glass he averages a decent 4.1 rebounds per game.

AKIL MITCHELL

Fresh out of high school as a two-star recruit, the 6-foot-8 senior has blossomed to be a great player for Virginia so far this season. Mitchell is the leading rebounder on the Virginia team, bringing in seven rebounds per game.

Mitchell averages 6.9 points per game, but MSU might want to put him on the foul line, as he shoots a brutal 42.7 percent from the charity stripe.


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