Auburn Hills, Mich. • Derrick Nix had 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds to help power third-seeded Michigan State past 14th-seeded Valparaiso 65-54 on Thursday.
The Spartans went on a 26-5 run in the first half to take control.
Michigan State (26-8) will play the winner of the Memphis-St. Mary’s game on Saturday when Spartans coach Tom Izzo will be shooting for a spot in the round of 16 for the fifth time in six years.
The Crusaders (26-8) were no match for Michigan State in their first NCAA tournament in nine years, just as they weren’t as a first-round loser in 2000 to the eventual champion Spartans.
Valpo had enough size to match up, but didn’t have enough strength.
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