Big Ten conference play will come to a close on Sunday afternoon as the conference tournament wraps up with the Wisconsin Badgers taking on Michigan State. The Badgers found their way into the championship after defeating Michigan and Purdue. The Spartans have started to heat up as all Tom Izzo teams seem to do in the month of March, they landed a spot in the championship after beating Ohio State and Maryland.
#1 Wisconsin vs. #3 Michigan State
- Game Time: 3:30ET on CBS
Wisconsin showed exactly why they are the Big Ten's number 1 seed last time out against the Spartans in a 68-61 victory, one in which the final score was a lot closer than the actual game. The Badgers pounded the ball inside early and often as conference player of the year Frank Kaminsky scored a season high 31 points in his final home game of his career. Frank the Tank also added 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals to the stat sheet. Sophomore Nigel Hayes chipped in with 14 points and Wisconsin's big men shot a combined 17-26 well enough for 65 percent. Michigan State's bright spot came towards the end of the game when they were able to fight their way back and turned the deficient from down 22 points into just a 7 point loss. Bryn Forbes scored 22 points and was 8-9 from the field for Sparty, but that was not enough to rally a full comeback in the second half.
What to Expect:
Tom Izzo has once again found a way to transform his solid, but not great team into a streaking red hot March squad that not many opponents want to match up against in the next few weeks. Big Ten conference coach of the year Bo Ryan, on the other hand, continues to show dominance throughout the season after pep talking up the Badgers at halftime against Purdue on Saturday which led them to a 41-16 second half victory. Sunday's match up is going to be one of the best coaching battles that has taken place all season long.
How MSU wins:
Look for Izzo to focus on stopping Frank and Nigel from getting easy looks at the basket, after having both of those players destroy the Spartans inside the paint the first time they played, Tom will make sure that does not happen again. Spartan guards Trice and Forbes will also be called upon to have big games on both sides of the court, with Jackson out for the Badgers, Michigan State can hope to take advantage of Bronson Koenig on the defensive end of the court.
How Wisconsin Wins:
The Badgers need to continue to do exactly what they have done all season long, which is not turn the ball over, commit few fouls, and high offensive efficiency. Kaminsky and Dekker have been playing great as of late together, and the rise of Koenig stepping up for the injured Jackson has been huge for the Badgers.
What's on the line:
For Michigan State they have a chance to head into the NCAA Tournament with a conference tournament championship title and riding a hot streak. Wisconsin with a victory can earn them a 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament, which could possibly lead them to a Final Four for a rematch of last year's battle with Kentucky.