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Perhaps the only victory Valparaiso fans were able to come away with was adorning Michigan State’s statue of their mascot, Sparty, in VU gear*.

The #3 seeded Michigan State Spartans knocked out the 14th seeded Valparaiso Crusaders in opening round action, 65-54.

Early on, it appeared as if Northwest Indiana’s own Crusaders might be able to pull off another NCAA Tournament upset. Tied 8-8 in the 1st, Michigan State then went on a tear, ending the half on a 27-10 run. The Crusaders who needed to hit their shots early and often, struggled in the 1st half, hitting 3 of 13 from 3-point range. Valpo struggled in the paint, as well, scoring 7 points in the key, while Michigan State had 16 points down low, in the 1st.

Valpo outscored MSU, 36-30 in 2nd half action. VU went 7-25 from 3 point range, but their bench outscored MSU’s, 13-3 in the game.

Leading the charge for the Spartans was Derrick Nix who’s 23 points and 15 rebounds lead the team. Keith Appling added another 15 points for the Spartans, and Gary Harris scored 10 for MSU, who will face the winner of (6) Memphis and (11) St. Mary’s, on Saturday. Ben Boggs scored 15 points for the Crusaders. Eric Buggs scored 14, and Matt Kenney added 10 for VU.

The Crusaders ended their season with a 26-8 record.

*Photo courtesy of MLive.com


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