The Spartans Claim No. 1 In Big 10
The highly anticipated in-state rivalry matchup between the Michigan Wolverines and the Michigan State Spartans finally took place tonight in East Lansing at 8 p.m. E.T. Both teams were fighting for the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, which starts Wednesday, March 13. Tonight the Spartans not only got in-state bragging rights but also the coveted No. 1 seed in the tournament, with their 75-63 win over the Wolverines.
The No. 7 Wolverines (15-4 Big Ten, 26-4 overall) traveled to Spartans (15-4 Big Ten, 24-6 overall) territory to play for a title in the last game of the season- a historical first in the rivalry. The Spartans were able to clinch their ninth Big Ten regular-season title under coach Tom Izzo, while the Wolverines were unable to avenge their 77-70 home loss to the Spartans that came on February 24.
Michigan’s starting five were sophomore Jordan Poole, junior Zavier Simpson, sophomore Isaiah Livers, freshman Ignas Brazdeikis, and junior Jon Teske. Michigan State started senior Kenny Goins, freshman Aaron Henry, sophomore Xavier Tillman, senior Matt McQuaid, and junior Cassius Winston. Poole scored the first points of the game, and Michigan took an early 7-2 lead. The Spartans had no early answer, as Brazdeikis was 4-for-4 from the field and 2-for-2 from deep. With 14 and a half minutes left, the Wolverines seemed in control of the game as they led 17-7. The deeper the game went, however, the more the Spartans seemed to find their rhythm. With under eight minutes left, Tillman was leading the Spartans scoring with six points, and the team was trailing Michigan 19-29. Although the first half was back-and-forth, Michigan State ended solidly, trailing 29-35.
After the half, Michigan State came back a new team. Even though Brazdeikis was a constant problem for the Spartans, they continued to fight. With 12 and a half minutes left, the score was 50-45 Michigan. Before long it was 57-52 Spartans. Then 65-53 Spartans. Then Brazdeikis was out of the game with his fifth foul. Then the Spartans had a ten-point lead with 5 minutes left. Then, the Spartans were officially champs.
For Michigan, Brazdeikis recorded his tenth 20-point scoring effort, Poole scored 15, and Simpson had 5 assists and scored 6. For State, Tillman scored 17 points, Goins had 9 points and 16 rebounds, and McQuaid scored nine.
Although Michigan State failed to have the start they wanted, the ending was exactly, if not more then they could have hope for. An in-state rivalry win. A win in front of a home crowd. And a spot as the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Catch the Spartans in their next game, when they play a yet-to-be-determined team on Friday, March 15 in the Big Ten Championship Tournament!