Michigan State is playing in its third straight Sweet 16 and the 12th in the past 17 years.

As for its opponent — No. 1 seeded Virginia — this isn’t exactly familiar territory.

After defeating Memphis in the third round, Virginia reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1995 and will be doing so knowing it is going up against a team playing some of its best basketball.

“Madison Square Garden, to get there certainly and to play on the Sweet 16, we talk about that,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “You get to the Sweet 16, that’s the rarified air of college basketball and you’re going to have to play.

“We know who’s waiting. We know how good they are.”

Michigan State has won five straight, including victories over Wisconsin and Michigan, the other Big Ten teams to reach the Sweet 16.

But, Virginia has been pretty good, as well, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles. The Cavaliers are the only team from the ACC still alive in the Tournament.

“We have a really great conference, a lot of really good teams,” sophomore guard Malcolm Brogdon said. “But to be the last ones standing is huge. We’re going to try to represent well. We come from a strong conference.”

Bennett, in his fifth season at Virginia, understands it’s all about matchups in the Tournament and believes that says more than the ACC struggling.

“Everybody can make their statements, but I’m just thankful we’re standing,” he said. “I don’t know what it means about us. All I know is we’re playing and I’m thankful for that.”

Virginia didn’t play especially well in its NCAA opener against Coastal Carolina, but it was rolling in its 78-60 third-round victory over Memphis.

The Cavaliers shot 56 percent, and their usually stifling defense was far too much for the Tigers to handle.

“This is just the way we play,” said guard Joe Harris, who scored 16. “If people are not familiar with watching us, we love to just grind it out. We love the long defensive possessions. We love just making teams work when they’re defending us. It’s just kind of what Virginia basketball is all about.”