The semifinals of the Big Ten tournament are playing out a lot like the rest of the games, featuring very close, intense, down-to-the-wire matchups, with four teams battling for the right to play for a championship on Sunday.
Following a thrilling comeback victories against Illinois and Nebraska, respectively, in the quarterfinals, Michigan and Ohio State took the court in Indianapolis on Saturday. It had all of the intensity of their football rivalry and was just as exciting as the best games in that series.
We will have a recaps of the Buckeyes-Wolverines and Michigan State-Wisconsin, as well as the start time for Sunday's championship game.
Day 3 Results
|No. 1 Michigan||No. 5 Ohio State||72-69 MICH|
|No. 2 Wisconsin||No. 3 Michigan State||83-75 MICH ST.|
No. 1 Michigan 72, No. 5 Ohio State 69
There was so much to this game, with Ohio State nearly pulling off another ferocious rally after falling behind by 15 points in the first half, but the real story didn't start until the final minute.
Ohio State took a 68-65 lead with four minutes, 12 seconds to play, but it got just one free throw from LaQuinton Ross from that point.
Ross did have a chance later to cut Michigan's lead down to one but missed the front end of a one-and-one. As a team, Ohio State shot just 66.7 percent from the stripe. Greg Anthony of CBS Sports pointed out how strong the Buckeyes had been at the line coming into today.
Michigan's problems from the free-throw line continued, making just 10 of 19 attempts in this game to keep Ohio State in it at the end.
The Buckeyes' stout defense made it difficult for Michigan to take advantage, as the Wolverines were held to one field goal during that same span. But they were aggressive and got three free throws, including a clutch one from Spike Albrecht with six seconds left to give Michigan a three-point lead.
Aaron Craft did have a chance to tie the game at the end, getting a rebound after Albrecht missed the second free throw, but as he went up for a long three-pointer, the ball slipped out of his hands and the clock ran out.
Despite the loss, Ohio State showed enough in this tournament to solidify its standing as a No. 4 or No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Michigan will go into Sunday's title game with a ton of confidence, winning seven straight games. The Wolverines swept Michigan State in the regular season and split two games against Wisconsin, with each team winning on the road.
No. 3 Michigan State 83, No. 2 Wisconsin 75
Michigan State had a dominant first half and held on late against Wisconsin to come away with an 83-75 win in the Big Ten semifinals.
The Spartans had a 16-1 run in the first half to go up by 21 points, holding a 43-26 lead at halftime. Wisconsin did its best to fight back to cut the deficit to single digits in the final minutes, but the Badgers could not get over the top in the loss.
Tom Izzo's squad showcased a balanced effort in the win with five players in double figures. Adreian Payne led the way with 18 points, but the team made 56.9 percent of its field goals including going 7-of-13 from three-point range.
Wisconsin did not have as much of a team effort, as only Frank Kaminsky showed up on the offensive end. The center had 28 points, including a perfect 8-of-8 from the free-throw line, but the rest of the team struggled from the floor.
This win truly sent a message to the rest of the country that Michigan State is once again a top contender for the NCAA tournament, as noted by multiple analysts watching along:
A healthy Michigan State team is scary good. Putting a beating on Wisconsin in the first half.— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) March 15, 2014
Yeah, Michigan State might be scary again.— Brian Hamilton (@BrianHamiltonSI) March 15, 2014
The Spartans lost three of their last four games in the regular season and seven of 12 games overall. However, they dealt with multiple injuries during that stage and are now apparently healthy.
They will now move onto the finals of the Big Ten tournament to get a third shot at Michigan after losing twice in the regular season. Another victory would certainly give the squad plenty of confidence heading into the Big Dance.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin likely lost its chance at a No. 1 seed, but it will still be a top contender to make a deep run into the Final Four.
|(8) Indiana||(1) Michigan|
|(9) Illinois||(9) Illinois|
|(5) Ohio State||(4) Nebraska||(5) Ohio state|
|(12) Purdue||(5) Ohio State|
|(7) Minnesota||(2) Wisconsin||(3) Michigan State|
|(10) Penn State||(7) Minnesota||(2) Wisconsin|
|(3) Michigan State|
|(6) Iowa||(3) Michigan State|
|(11) Northwestern||(11) Northwestern|
Day 4 Schedule
|3:30 p.m.||Michigan||Michigan St.||CBS|
Michigan will be playing in its first Big Ten Championship Game since the 1998 team won the tournament. That victory was vacated as part of NCAA sanctions, so a win on Sunday would be the Wolverines' first recognized tournament title.
A victory on Sunday will also help secure Michigan's spot in the NCAA Tournament. We know John Beilein's group will be in the Big Dance, but with a log jam for the top spots, figuring out where the Wolverines line up is tricky.
Defeating another Top 25 team, either Michigan State or Wisconsin, after knocking off Ohio State could be enough to propel the Wolverines to a No. 1 seed—regardless of what happens with other teams.
If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter.