Big Ten Tournament 2012: Live Score, Reaction and Analysis from OSU vs. MSU

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2012

EAST LANSING, MI - MARCH 04:  William Buford #44 of the Ohio State Buckeyes drives the ball around Keith Appling #11 of the Michigan State Spartans during the second half of the game at Breslin Center on March 4, 2012 in East Lansing, Michigan. Ohio State defeated Michigan State Spartans 72-70 and won a share of the Big Ten Title.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Here comes the rubber match.

In a year that saw three Big Ten teams split the regular-season title (Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State), this year's tournament was the opportunity for one of those teams to prove they were the conference's best.

And with Michigan State and Ohio State set to meet in the championship game, fans will get to watch the two teams thought to be the conference's best do battle for a third time.

Michigan State won the first matchup on Feb. 11, 58-48. But Ohio State had its vengeance on March 4, not only beating Michigan State (72-70) but also preventing the Spartans from winning the Big Ten regular-season title outright.

This game isn't just about conference pride, of course—it's very likely the winner will get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

And there will be no shortage of stars on either side gunning for the win.

The Buckeyes have one of the nation's best players in Jared Sullinger. Deshaun Thomas (15.5 PPG) and William Buford (14.8 PPG) are no slouches, either.

Michigan State counters with constant double-double threat Draymond Green (16.2 PPG, 10.4 RPG) and great depth behind him.

No doubt, this will be the game of the day. But that's what you get when the two best teams from the nation's most competitive conference this year do battle on Selection Sunday.

 

Prediction: MSU 71, OSU 64

 

Spartans Win Close One And Should Secure NCAA Tournament One-Seed

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 11:  Brandon Wood #30 of the Michigan State Spartans attempts a shot against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Final Game of the 2012 Big Ten Men's Conference Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 11, 2012 in
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Much as your humble narrator predicted, Michigan State survived an excellent matchup, winning 68-64.

Draymond Green struggled throughout, shooting 4-15 from the field for only 12 points, though he did snare nine rebounds and hit perhaps the biggest shot of the game, a key three-pointer with 1:34 remaining that gave the Spartans a 67-62 lead.

The difference in this game probably came down to the Michigan State players creating shots for one another. The Spartans finished with 16 assists; the Buckeyes managed only six.

But Michigan State also shot the ball better, shooting 48.1 percent compared to Ohio State's 39.7 percent.

That proved to be huge for the Spartans as Ohio State didn't give them a ton of second-chance opportunities, out-rebounding Michigan State 35-27 and doubled them in offensive rebounds (14 for Ohio State to seven for the Spartans.

Michigan State now has an extremely strong claim to be a one-seed. Between a split regular-season title, a conference tournament championship (in the country's best conference), the toughest strength of schedule in the nation and 11 wins against teams with a top-50 RPI, they've more than proved they are one of the four best teams in America.

 

Spartans Thriving Without Strong Showing From Draymond Green

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 11:  Draymond Green #23 of the Michigan State Spartans fights for rebound position against Deshaun Thomas #1 and William Buford #44 (R) of the Ohio State Buckeyes Spartans during the Final Game of the 2012 Big Ten Men's Conference
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Michigan State star has only managed nine points on 3-12 shooting from the field. The 21 points from Brandon Wood and a strong defensive effort from Michigan State has made up for Green's rough outing.

Meanwhile, Ohio State has shown balance. They've been paced by Sullinger's 16 points, but Lenzelle Smith, Jr. (10 points), William Buford (10 points) and Deshaun Thomas (11 points) have all stepped up as well.

Michigan State leads 62-57 with 5:45 remaining.

 

Wood On Fire

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Brandon Wood #30 of the Michigan State Spartans passes around Josh Gasser #21 of the Wisconsin Badgers during their Semifinal game of the 2012 Big Ten Men's Basketball Conference Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

As quickly as Ohio State went up seven, the Spartans responded, scoring 10 unanswered points to take a 55-52 lead with 11:38 remaining in the game

The catalyst for the quick turn in momentum was Brandon Wood, who sunk two straight shots from beyond the arc to give him 19 points for the game, leading all scorers.

Quite frankly, this game is college basketball at its finest.

 

Offensive Surge

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 11:  Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes controls the ball against Austin Thornton #13 of the Michigan State Spartans oduring the Final Game of the 2012 Big Ten Men's Conference Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fiel
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Ladies and gentlemen, Jared Sullinger is back in the building. After only scoring four points in the first half, he's exploded for nine points early in the second to bring him to 13 points total.

The pace of scoring has picked up as well, with both teams starting to feel it from beyond the arc.

Ohio State has claimed momentum early, and they lead 52-45 with 13:56 remaining in the second half.

 

Riding the See-Saw

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 11:  Derrick Nix #25 of the Michigan State Spartans goes up for a shot attempt against William Buford #44 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Final Game of the 2012 Big Ten Men's Conference Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Talk about a hotly-contested matchup—this game has already seen three ties and 12 lead changes, and we've only reached at halftime.

It looked like Michigan State was on a late surge to close the half, taking a 34-29 lead and seeming to have the game's momentum. But after a scrappy bucket down low and a technical foul, Ohio State quickly cut the deficit to 34-32, and that's where we are at the half.

Ohio State has been led by guards William Buford (10 points) and Aaron Craft (six points, five rebounds), while Michigan State has been led by Draymond Green (seven points, four rebounds), Brandon Wood (seven points) and Derrick Nix (six points, two assists).

This one has all the makings of an excellent second half and classic finish. Stay tuned.

 

Battle in the Paint

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 11:  Draymond Green #23 of the Michigan State Spartans brings the ball up court against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Final Game of the 2012 Big Ten Men's Conference Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 1
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

 

Not surprisingly, this game has been a war in the paint, with Michigan State having the slight advantage in scoring down low, 18-16.

This game will most certainly be won in the basketball trenches.

Michigan State leads 25-24 with 3:55 remaining in the first half.

 

No Shortage of Effort

EAST LANSING, MI - MARCH 04: William Buford #44 of the Ohio State Buckeyes drives the ball around Austin Thornton #13 of the Michigan State Spartans during the second half of the game at Breslin Center on March 4, 2012 in East Lansing, Michigan. Ohio Stat
Leon Halip/Getty Images

It's obvious that both of these teams want this one badly and understand the implications of this game. The defense has been intense and both squads are running the floor after each turnover, trying to steal easy buckets in transition.

This game may come down to which team can win the battle on the glass, and which squad can hit the open shots they manage to get. These two teams early seem evenly matched in every regard.

One thing to keep an eye on: Jared Sullinger has picked up his second foul early.

Ohio State is winning 18-17 with 8:37 remaining.

 

Both Defenses Come Out Strong

EAST LANSING, MI - MARCH 04: Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes and Adreian Payne #5 of the Michigan State Spartans battle under the basket during the second half of the game at the Breslin Center on March 4, 2012 in East Lansing, Michigan. Ohi
Leon Halip/Getty Images

 

At the first break with 15:37 remaining in the first half, Michigan State has the early 7-4 lead. 

Not surprisingly, both defenses have been strong early, aggressively pressuring the ball and contesting shots. Both squads have played stifling defense all season long—Ohio State is 11th in the country in points allowed (58.5), and Michigan State is 12th (58.7). 

Early on, this game has all the makings of a fun, physical battle. 

 

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