The Big Ten’s only game on Tuesday night was a significant one, with Penn State going on the road to face Michigan State. Both sides were desperate to grab a win to improve their NCAA Tournament hopes.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Michigan State Spartans 60, Penn State Nittany Lions 58
Over the last few weeks, these teams have been trending in opposite directions. While Michigan State has struggled to find any consistency, Penn State seemed to have turned the corner, scoring huge wins against teams like Maryland and Wisconsin. It made Tuesday night’s meeting an important one as both sides hoped to score a valuable win to improve their NCAA Tournament hopes.
The game itself was pretty tight. Michigan State took an early lead and maintained it for much of the evening. However, Penn State kept things just close enough to make Spartan fans uncomfortable and lead to a late push for the win. John Harrar led the way for the Nittany Lions with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Aaron Henry came up big for the Spartans with 20 points and four rebounds. However, the comeback effort from Penn State came up just short and Michigan State scored an important 60-58 win.
Michigan State improved to 10-7 overall and 4-7 in Big Ten play. This projected as the team’s most winnable game left in the regular season, so taking care of business here is crucially important for the team’s postseason hopes. Making the Big Dance still looks like an uphill battle, but Tuesday’s win moved the team up to 83rd in the NET rankings, which was an eight spot move in just a few days. Keep that up and all the team’s goals are possible.
For Penn State, this will go down as a missed opportunity. The Nittany Lions had a winnable game in front of them and couldn’t get the job done. If the team is going to make the NCAAs, that’s not exactly the recipe you want to see. Fortunately, Penn State gets a very manageable game on Sunday at home against Nebraska. Win there and you can start getting things back on track. The team is still in relatively solid position, sitting at 31st in the NET Rankings.