Michigan State Basketball: Derrick Nix Dirty or Was It Indiana's Cody Zeller?

Adam BiggersSenior Analyst IIFebruary 20, 2013

Derrick Nix and Cody Zeller, or Ali versus Frazier? You be the judge.
Derrick Nix and Cody Zeller, or Ali versus Frazier? You be the judge.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Tuesday night's clash between Big Ten heavyweights, No. 1 Indiana and No. 4 Michigan State, lived up to its billing. 

College basketball followers were treated to a rough-and-tumble slugfest, led by Spartans center Derrick Nix and Hoosiers big man Cody Zeller. 

The Hoosiers emerged with the win at the Breslin Center, 72-68, after downing the Spartans on Jan. 27 in Bloomington, 75-70.

Both matches were physical, but Tuesday's had the feel of a boxing match: Nix and Zeller were toe-to-toe and shoulder-to-shoulder in the ring for most of the evening, poking and prodding each other during the battle for conference supremacy. 

The "dirty player" argument erupted on Twitter, messageboards, Facebook and just about every other social platform imaginable. Nix re-tweeted a verbal jab, seconding a Twitter user's comment about Zeller being a "punk bitch." Zeller responded, taking the high road in the debate by calling Nix and the Spartans "very talented." (via mlive.com)

Zeller won the war with 17 points and five rebounds, while Nix finished with eight points and four boards. 

But the question remains: Who was the dirtiest of the dirty? Which player really bent the code of ethics on the court by way of underhanded (or left-handed, in Nix's case) play? 

Below is video proof of one such encounter. Nix was lambasted for his hit to Zeller's private region, but a slow-motion replay clearly shows Zeller pulling Nix's arm into his groin.

While both played typical Big Ten-style basketball, neither were guilty of gross misconduct. Minus football helmets and pads, Big Ten basketball is a lot like the conference's gridiron. 

Zeller and Nix played within the parameters, and that's that.

Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan State Spartans basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81