The Big Ten tournament has mostly followed a script thus far, with the Indiana Hoosiers being the only higher seed to lose before the semifinals.
Even though Michigan spoiled the Hoosiers' party Friday, it was a critical moment for the Wolverines in their quest to make the NCAA tournament. A matchup against Purdue, which knocked off Michigan twice in the regular season, is the only thing standing between the Wolverines and Sunday's title game.
The marquee matchup of the Big Ten semifinals features two Top 20 teams, with Michigan State looking to extend its winning streak to eight games against a Maryland team that's lost four of its previous seven games.
Here's how things played out in the Big Ten tournament semifinals, an updated look at the bracket and a recap of the action.
|Big Ten Tourney Semifinals Results, Championship Schedule|
|Game||Matchup||Result/Start Time (ET)|
|11||No. 4 Purdue vs. No. 8 Michigan||Purdue, 76-59|
|12||No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 3 Maryland||Michigan State, 64-61|
|Game||Matchup||Start Time (ET)|
|13||No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 4 Purdue||3 p.m. (Sunday)|
|No. 4 Purdue 76|
|No. 8 Michigan 59|
|No. 4 Purdue|
|No. 2 Michigan State|
|No. 2 Michigan State 64|
|No. 3 Maryland 61|
Michigan State def. Maryland, 64-61
Despite some sloppy play in the second half, including nine turnovers, Michigan State was able to hold off Maryland, 64-61, to set up a showdown with Purdue in the Big Ten championship game.
The Spartans looked like they would cruise to a victory early, carrying a 41-33 lead into halftime, but they began to show cracks over the final 20 minutes and were held to just 21 points.
Fortunately, Maryland's offense struggled to find any rhythm against Tom Izzo's defense. The Terrapins shot just 33.3 percent from the field. Melo Trimble scuffled with 11 points on 2-of-15 shooting.
There was some controversy involving Trimble at the end of the game, per the Testudo Times:
Testudo Times @testudotimes
Eron Harris was moving and bumped Melo Trimble on a long heave at the buzzer. No foul call. Maryland loses.3/12/2016, 10:40:26 PM
Michigan State certainly saw highlights of Connecticut's miracle heave against Cincinnati on Friday, making sure to guard Trimble and disrupt the final shot. There was definite contact, but the officials did not blow the whistle.
It was an off day for the stars of both teams. Denzel Valentine did have 18 points, but he was just 4-of-12 from the field. He made up for it with 10 assists and seven rebounds.
Jim Comparoni of Spartan Magazine also found this to be a crucial game in Valentine's development as Michigan State's point guard:
Jim Comparoni @JimComparoni
This is good training for Valentine. Been too many blowouts since he became the primary point guard. Can he QB this one?3/12/2016, 10:22:08 PM
Valentine came through in the clutch, nailing a huge three-pointer after Maryland tied the game at 53 and hitting two free throws that gave Michigan State a three-point edge before Trimble's final desperation heave.
Izzo certainly didn't seem to be enjoying himself as the game was coming to its ugly conclusion, via CBS Sports:
CBS Sports @CBSSports
That finish looked a little stressful for Coach Izzo. https://t.co/iDdD4ZXewS3/12/2016, 10:48:18 PM
Ultimately, though, the Spartans don't need style points. Their goal was to get a victory, which is what they were able to do against a good Maryland team.
This will mark Michigan State's third straight appearance in the Big Ten title game. It knocked off Michigan in 2014 and lost to Wisconsin last year.
The Spartans will be out for revenge against Purdue after an 82-81 overtime defeat on February 9. A victory on Sunday could also be enough to put Michigan State on the No. 1 line when brackets are released.
If that's not enough motivation for Sparty, nothing will be.
Purdue def. Michigan, 76-59
Purdue rode two key runs at the start of each half to secure a 76-59 victory over Michigan and a spot in the Big Ten championship game for the first time since 2009.
The Boilermakers started the game on an 8-0 run, held a 38-30 lead at the break and started the second half on a 9-0 run, opening the lead to 17 points.
Michigan did make things interesting down the stretch, cutting Purdue's lead to six at 60-54 with less than eight minutes remaining. But A.J. Hammons halted the Wolverines' momentum with a gorgeous spin move and easy layup on the next possession as part of a 7-0 run that gave the Boilermakers back their cushion.
Not surprisingly, Hammons was the star for Purdue. The senior center had 27 points, his best output since January 30 against Nebraska. He added 11 rebounds and three blocks for good measure, prompting this response from the Indianapolis Star's Gregg Doyel:
Gregg Doyel @GreggDoyelStar
They are all just traffic cones to AJ Hammons.3/12/2016, 7:47:24 PM
Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports noted Michigan head coach John Beilein was utilizing a different strategy, with Hammons clearly dominating inside:
Pat Forde @YahooForde
Michigan has no one-on-one answer for AJ Hammons. John Beilein willing to die on the don't-double hill just like Cuonzo Martin last night.3/12/2016, 7:48:16 PM
The Wolverines rode into Saturday on fumes after playing two nail-biters against Northwestern and Indiana the previous two days. They did help their NCAA tournament resume with that victory over Indiana, but eventually all that energy spent caught up to them.
Michigan's lack of size and rebounding played a critical role in the outcome, as the Wolverines lost the battle on the glass 41-27. They shot just 37.1 percent from the floor, though Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman did his part with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
Despite the loss, Forde believes Michigan has earned a spot in the Big Dance. It will certainly be a close call for the Wolverines, who are 22-12 overall with a 4-11 record against the RPI top 100, per ESPN.com. If they get in, that victory over Indiana on Friday will likely be the biggest reason.
Purdue doesn't have to worry about its tournament credentials, as it will comfortably make the field. The Boilermakers are seeking their second conference tournament title, and confidence will be on their side.
In addition to knocking off Illinois and Michigan by a combined 48 points, the Boilermakers knocked off Michigan State in their only matchup during the regular season.
Purdue has flown under the radar in the Big Ten this season, but a tournament title win on Sunday will make it hard to argue against this team as one capable of making a deep run when the madness begins next week.
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