Virginia Relishing Underdog Role vs. Michigan State

By: Nate Sulham Email
By: Nate Sulham Email

It's not often a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament can call itself an underdog and be taken seriously.

But Virginia may just have a case.

The Cavaliers are considered a one-point underdog by Las Vegas oddsmakers in their Sweet 16 matchup against Michigan State Friday night.

The Spartans are also a popular pick amongst the analyst crowd, with many choosing MSU as their National Champion -- including President Barack Obama himself.

"Now we can actually say we're the underdogs. It's hard to be an underdog and be a one seed but you look at everyone on ESPN, even Barack Obama, he puts Michigan State as the champion," freshman point guard London Perrantes said. "So I guess we can say we're the underdog."

The fourth-seed Spartans came into the season with high expectations. They were ranked No. 2 in both preseason polls but suffered a slew of injuries during the season to key contributors.

Tom Izzo's team finally turned a corner in the Big Ten Tournament, winning the Championship and staking its claim as a National Championship favorite.

"Certainly they have a program that's established," Tony Bennett said. "Coach Izzo has won. They play very physical. They don't take possessions off, and it's why hes had success in conference play and NCAA Tournament play. So we'll have to be ready, knowing that -- but not backing down from it."

"If I wasn't a part of this team, if I was just a 13-year-old going to school everyday and the talk at the lunch table is filling out a bracket, I probably wouldn't pick Virginia either," sophomore guard Justin Anderson said of the 'Hoos underdog status. "You're going to go with the big name team. But being a part of this process, you understand what it takes. And it's not just showing up with a name on your jersey for either team. You have to show up and you have to play ball from the jump."

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