Since Michigan State returned home from Spokane in Sunday's wee hours, Tom Izzo started watching Virginia film.

And then he watched a little more. And a little more.

It didn't take long before Izzo knew exactly why Virginia is the top seed in the East Regional.

"Why are they a No. 1 seed?" Izzo said. "Because of the way they defend and rebound the ball. This is one of the best defneisve teams in the whole country, if not the best. And they are big.

"They're a very big physical strong team; people say they look like a Big Ten team. This is a bump and grind team."

The ACC champion does indeed feature one of the nation's best defenses -- allowing opponents to score just 55.5 points per game, which ranks No. 1 in the country. The Cavaliers rank No. 9 in field-goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 38.6 percent.

Virginia earned its way to the regional semifinals with double-digits wins over No. 16 seed Coastal Carolina and No. 8 seed Memphis. It held those two teams to scores of 59 and 60.

"I've gotten a chance to get to look at a ton of film on them now," Izzo said. "Knowing (head coach) Tony Bennet, I have a great appreciatin for what Tony has done. When you win the ACC and the conference tournament, that bodes well for you. They got guys who have been on the All-ACC team and the All-Defensive team.

"They've gotten it covered in every way."