Teams that are starting to fly up the seedings for the NCAA Tournament are going to meet at the United Center to determine who will make it to the Big Ten Tournament Final. The Ohio State Buckeyes will duke it out once again with the Michigan State Spartans.
The Bucks are really rolling at the right time. They haven’t had to face one of the big boys of the Big Ten yet here in the Windy City, but they have scored six wins in a row and have covered five of the six. F Deshaun Thomas had a prototypical 19 points and nine boards against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the romp on Friday in the first game that OSU has had to face in the Big Ten Tournament, and he is going to have to be huge again to get the job done in this one. The Buckeyes have played stifling defense as well. They have held four straight teams in the 50s and six straight teams to 60 points or fewer. In that span, they have kept teams to an average of just 53.5 points per game, which is why the offense is able to not always be at its best. This is a crucial spot for Ohio State, as it could take a massive jump up to perhaps the No. 2 line in the dance with a win, something that would be crucial going forward.
Michigan State proved once again on Friday why it is always amongst the favorites to win the National Championship year in and year out. The Spartans were down by double digits for a good chunk of the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes, who absolutely had to win that game if they were going to have a shot at getting into the NCAA Tournament. Instead, they bulled their way through the rest of the game and scored a hard-fought 59-56 win. F Adreian Payne was huge in the game, scoring 18 points and pulling down 10 boards, but the more encouraging thing to see was G Keith Appling continually attacking the basket. Appling had a rough last few games of the season, but he put up 13 points on 6-of-15 shooting, including a thunderous dunk that really sparked the run that won the game for the team. This is what leaders and champions are made of, and we are always amazed at how well Head Coach Tom Izzo’s teams ultimately play at this level.
Make no mistake about it: Michigan State is going to be out for some payback in this one. The Buckeyes got the best of Sparty when these two teams met a few weeks ago, but now, it’s going to be a case of revenge. The Spartans are getting better guard play right now than the Buckeyes are, and that’s going to be the ever so slight difference in what should be a great game to watch on Saturday. Michigan State 66 – Ohio State 63
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.