Michigan State Comeback Earns Spartans a Share of Big 10 Title


Tonight’s Michigan 26-4(15-4) vs Michigan State 24-6(15-4) basketball game has a huge significance. With Purdue’s 70-57 win over Northwestern earlier today they clinched a share of the Big 10 title. Whichever team emerges from the Breslin Center with the victory will share that title with the Boilermakers.

In addition seeds for the Big 10 tournament will be finalized. The nationally televised contest may well determine a #1 seed in one of the NCAA Tournament brackets when they are announced later this month.

The Rivalry

Michigan leads the all-time series with 106 wins to MSU’s 82 victories. Last month the Spartans upset the Wolverines at home, leaving Ann Arbor with a 77-70 victory. Michigan is ranked 7th in the country, MSU is 9th. Michigan has won the last two Big 10 Tournaments. Michigan State won it in 2016.

Michigan lost in the NCAA finals last year to Villanova. In 2013 Louisville beat Michigan in the championship game but had the title vacated as a result of NCAA disciplinary action. Michigan previously won the title in 1989.

Michigan State has won the NCAA Tournament twice, in 1979 and again in 2000. Their last appearance in the final game came in 2009 when they lost to North Carolina.

The Spartans are a 4-point favorite in Vegas betting odds. State Coach Tom Izzo called tonight’s game “the biggest matchup in the rivals’ history.”

First Half

Michigan jumped out to an early 17-7 lead with Ignas (Iggy) Brazdeikis(13) pouring in 10 points. But Iggy committed his second personal foul at the 10-minute mark of the first half and Michigan coach John Beilein brought him to the bench.

Jordan Poole(2) picked up the scoring for Michigan with 10 points of his own. The Wolverines led 35-29 at the half.

MSU out-rebounded Michigan 20-9. But 9 turnovers cost the Spartans. As did their poor shooting. Michigan outshot MSU 50% to 40.9% and 45.5% to 20% from behind the 3-point line.

Isaiah Livers(4) joined Iggy with two personal fouls for the Wolverines. Cassius Winston(5) and Foster Loyer(3) picked up two fouls each for the Spartans.

Second Half

Xavier Tillman(23) made 2 free throws for the Spartans to pull them into a tie with 10:47 left in the game. Winston hit a 3-point jumper 31 seconds later to give MSU a 53-50 lead. The Breslin Center exploded. With momentum now on the side of the Spartans, they quickly moved out to a 59-52 lead when the TV timeout gave Michigan a chance to catch their breath.

After the timeout, Tillman scored a dunk on a set play. He was fouled on their next possession and 2 free throws pushed the lead to 63-52 MSU. Winston made a twisting layup to increase the lead to 13 with 6 minutes to play. Michigan’s leading scorer Brazdeikis fouled out on the Spartan’s next possession and the Wolverines hope for the victory followed him to the bench.

The final score, MSU 75 Michigan 63.

How about a rematch in the Big 10 Tournament, that would be fun.

Photo Courtesy of MSU