Michigan defeats Michigan State 75-64 in Big Ten semifinal game

Eric Espada  Getty Images

Eric Espada Getty Images

The Wolverines are one win away from a second straight Big Ten tournament title largely due to their airtight defense.

With Wisconsin's NCAA Tournament hopes hanging on by a thread, the Badgers will need to beat Michigan State tomorrow and win the final two games of the tournament to clinch an automatic bid.

After its third win in three days Saturday, Michigan is on the verge of doing it again.

Miles Bridges led MSU (29-3) with 20 points, and Winston finished with 17 in advancing to the semifinals Saturday against in-state rival No. 15 MI.

The Big Ten Tournament will ride a rollicking start into Saturday's semifinals. Saturday marked eight straight victories as MI climbs the seed-line ladder here en route to a Sunday afternoon championship game appearance against Purdue.

But very few folks in NY care about Big Ten football, and even fewer care about Big Ten basketball, if attendance at this tournament is any indication.

Looking at the attendance of this year's tournament from Wednesday and Thursday night's games, it doesn't appear much better.

"I think that was the key to the game", Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "But if you look at what we have coming back, we're going to be a great team next year". "I think we just didn't stay consistent throughout the game, and we came out hot and just mentally didn't stay focused throughout the game".

"It feels really good", Baker said, on the confidence boost this gives him heading into the summer. "And it was a difference-maker".

Abdur Rahkman talked about the energy the crowd provided.

"They had us in rotation and they were just running circles around us on defense", Roby said. "It felt like a home game, and we definitely fed off the energy".

For a team that went 4-5 in games decided by four points or fewer in the regular season, Purdue left nothing up to chance in the final minutes of this one, leading by 14 with just over a minute left. "We just ran into a buzzsaw with MI, but I don't think that undoes what we've already accomplished". "I knew I had to take a shot. We got a little panicky, and MI will make you do that". "So I'm glad about that". There were multiple scuffles in the opening minutes of the game, with former Kentucky transfer Charles Matthews getting into it with Michigan State players after early baskets. Rutgers shot 58 percent from the field as a team and 50 percent from 3-point range.

Xavier won despite committing 20 turnovers and scoring just two points in the final 4:47.

That's not the typical company line from a Beilein-coached MI team, but this isn't your typical Beilein-coached team. Because it's not easy, it's only (68) teams out of how many they are. "Brevin's been big in the last couple of games, knocking down shots, and he had a big pull-up here".

Michigan shot a torrid 66.7 percent from the field in the second half to finish at 44.7 percent while beating Michigan State for the second time this season.

Despite Davison and Happ's clutch free throws, Khalil Iverson ultimately locked up the game for Wisconsin. Nebraska managed 38.1 percent (24-63), including a strong 56.3 percent (9-16) in the second half.

Michigan was just too balanced and quick for Michigan State. Or what will happen if Michigan State (No. 2 seed, South) wins it all?

After men's basketball loss to MI on January 13, the Spartans looked to avenge themselves Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. The Flint native ended up with a team-high 17 points on 7-of-18 shooting and seven rebounds.

Happ was the best player on the floor in the first half, finishing with nine points and six rebounds. The only other Spartan in double figures was Cassius Winston with 17. He had four of the Spartans' seven offensive rebounds that led to eight second-chance points for the Spartans.

The closest NU would get from there was 12 after a three by Glynn Watson got it to 61-49 with 4:30 left in the game, but the final rally was short-lived.

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