The Big Ten only had one matchup on Thursday night and Michigan State was able to grab a key conference road win in it. While it’s not a game that drew much national attention, it was one that could be pivotal for Michigan State’s postseason chances.
Here’s a look at what happened on Thursday.
Game of the Day:
KenPom slated this game as a tossup entering last night. Nebraska was given 52.1 percent odds to win the game and was projected to grab a narrow one-point win over the Spartans. Simply put, it was a winnable game for both sides.
And early on, the game lived up to the hype. The two teams battled for the majority of the first 10 minutes, but the Spartans began to pull away late in the first half. At the break, Michigan State led 32-26. Not much changed in the second half either, as Nebraska was able to keep things interesting, but never could close the gap.
Ultimately, Michigan State grabbed a 72-61 win.
The key player for the Spartans was Miles Bridges, who finished with an impressive 16 points, six rebounds, and a 164 offensive rating. This is the sixth game in a row that Bridges has scored double-digits and should (yet again) put him in the Big Ten Freshman of the Week conversation.
For Michigan State, this was a much needed win. After the team’s struggles in January, many were wondering if the Spartans could turn it around. But now the team has won two in a row with the first coming at home against arch-rival Michigan and the second on the road against a dangerous opponent. After all, Nebraska has already knocked off Dayton, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, and Purdue this season.
The Spartans are probably still on the outside looking in for the NCAA Tournament, but with a manageable upcoming three-game slate (at Michigan, Iowa, Ohio State), there should be room to improve the team’s resume.
On the other side, this is another tough loss for Nebraska. There’s still hope that the Huskers can salvage the rest of the season and make a Big Ten Tournament run, but this drops Nebraska to 10-12 on the season and was the team’s sixth loss in seven games. Even if there is a happy ending to this season, it’s going to be hard to overlook these struggles.
Now, Michigan State will prepare for a rematch against arch-rival Michigan next Tuesday. Nebraska will go on the road to face Iowa on Sunday, looking to win two straight against the Hawkeyes for the first time since Nebraska has joined the Big Ten.