The only thing Wayne Chism and the Tennessee Volunteers could do when the buzzer went off was sit… silently.
As Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans celebrated after their 69-70 win against the Tennessee Volunteers, the familiar smell of the Final Four became more distinct. As for the Volunteers, the ride had come to an end.
Tennessee absolutely played their hearts out. On offense, they had ball movement, great shot selection, and amazing execution. On defense, they had countless tipped passes and an impressive number of steals.
The entire team really stepped up and showed they wanted to win this game. JP Prince didn’t miss a shot the entire game, (including three alley-oop dunks) unless you count the half court buzzer beater at the end of the game. The Vols shot an impressive 7-16 from 3 point land, hitting their first six in a row. Overall, the Volunteers played great.
There was just one problem though…
Tennessee shot a miserable 14 of 21 from the free throw line. Call it a personal pet peeve, but I can’t stand a bad free throw percentage. When a team is in the Elite Eight, fighting for a national championship, you can’t go 14 for 21 from the free throw line. When you only lose by one point and you know you played great, you look at the numbers and that free throw percentage will give you nightmares.
As for Michigan State? Well honestly, they didn’t shoot that much better from the charity stripe, going 16 for 21, but without those two points, Tennessee wins by one. See where I’m going with this?
The Spartans definitely had some impressive moments. They matched Tennessee with nearly every shot. Just when Tennessee thought they had something going, Durrell Summers would score 2 of his 21 points and his Spartan teammates would bounce right back.
They were nearly dead even to the very end…nearly. When the final buzzer sounded, Michigan State was just good enough to edge out the Vols and to go to the Final Four for the fifth time in 10 years and will play Butler for a chance to go back to the National Championship game, where they have some unfinished business from last season.