On Thursday night, the dream ride of Northwestern came to an end when they matched up against MSU. Though it was pretty close for a good hunk of the 1st Half, by halftime, the score had separated out to an 18 point lead for the Spartans. That would be too much for Northwestern to overcome in the 2nd Half. At the end of the game, a few big buckets by Northwestern made this one look closer than it was for much of the evening. MSU ultimately won by a final score of 67-51.
The leading players for MSU in this one were Branden Dawson and Gary Harris. Dawson scored 16 points on just 12 attempts and had a very efficient evening. Harris ended up with 13 points and 7 rebounds despite only going 1-3 from outside the arch. Arguably the biggest surprise was Adreian Payne only scoring 5 points and snagging 6 rebounds. Northwestern isn't exactly known for their big men, so that was a big break for Northwestern. Unfortunately, they couldn't capitalize as too many other MSU guys were able to put up numbers.
The leading guys for Northwestern were Drew Crawford for 21 points and Alex Olah for 10 points. Some of the points for Crawford came in the late minutes of the game, but it was nice to see him end his Big Ten career with another great game. Along with this, the best moment of the Big Ten Tournament so far just might have been the standing ovation Crawford got when he left the floor. He has had a stellar career and though he will not be remembered like some of the other seniors, he absolutely deserves to be recognized. That was great to see.
Going forward, MSU will now face Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon. Wisconsin has been rolling over the last few weeks so the Spartans will have to come out with a great game if they hope to come out with a win over the Badgers. As Tom Izzo said, this is a big conference tournament this year and getting more playing time will be crucial. Do not expect MSU to hesitate on Saturday. They will be there to win.
For Northwestern, this is likely the end of their season. There had been some NIT talk during the season, but most of that died out the last few weeks. Chris Collins has done a great job getting his team to play together and improving throughout the season. Now, Wildcat fans have the offseason of recruiting and rebuilding until next season. Still, the future looks much brighter in Evanston than it has in years.