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<< Sports >>

NCAA Basketball

MSU keeps tournament hope alive, cruises past Michigan, 59-44

by Andrew Poloni

The Michigan Wolverines traveled to East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans Tuesday night at the Breslin Center – where the Wolverines haven’t won a basketball game since 1997.

The Spartans made sure they continued that streak for Michigan by beating them 59-44 in a hard fought defensive battle.

Both teams entered the game with 17-8 records and clinging to the hope of an outside chance of still making it into the NCAA tournament in March.

Michigan State has kept its possibility of a tournament berth alive and may have closed the door on Michigan with the victory over them.

The Wolverines began the game strong and led the Spartans for almost the entire first half.
Michigan State junior guard Drew Neitzel fought to keep the Spartans close though and hit a three pointer with close to 15 seconds left in the half to send Michigan State to the locker room with a 1 point lead.

Neitzel had a game high 21 points with six rebounds and five assists.

The Spartan defense continued to lock down the Wolverine offense and the second half and held Michigan to an awful 35.3 percent shooting percentage. Michigan also went to the line to attempt only four free throws in the whole game.

Michigan senior guard Dion Harris was the only Wolverine really to get any offense going scoring a team high 13 points. No other Michigan starter scored more than six points.

Michigan State freshman forward Raymar Morgan tied his season high scoring 18 points. Morgan also grabbed six rebounds for the Spartans.

Neitzel and Morgan combined for 39 Michigan State points – roughly two-thirds of the team’s total points.

The win moves Michigan State to 18-8 for the season and ties them with Michigan at 5-6 in the Big Ten Conference. The Spartans still have a chance to finish strong and get a spot in the tournament in March, but it will not be an easy task.

The Spartans still have to face the number three ranked team in the nation in Wisconsin twice, the number 19 Indiana Hoosiers and Michigan again to close out the season.

There’s a good chance the Spartans may have to run the table to make it to the tournament, and the likelihood of that is slim facing that remaining schedule.

The Wolverines may have essentially booked themselves a spot in March’s NIT tournament with the loss Tuesday. They too, though, face a tough remaining schedule to end the season.
Even if Michigan still had an NCAA tournament hope alive they would be in the same situation as the Spartans – needing to win out against a hard schedule.

The Wolverines still have to face number two Ohio State, number 19 Indiana and Michigan State again.

With the now likely chance that Michigan will not be playing in the NCAA tournament, the Michigan and Michigan State rematch on Feb. 27 may now see the Wolverines playing the role of spoiler for the Spartans as they seek revenge in Ann Arbor for Tuesday’s loss.


Another Viewpoint: Spartans Roll Over Michigan...Again

by Patrick Kenny

The once anticipated rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State hasn’t been all its hyped up to be. Michigan has dominated the match up on the football field and the Spartans have proved superior on the hardwood.

The Spartans (18-8) coasted to a 15 point win, 59-44, defeating Michigan for the 14th time in their last 16 meetings. The MSU win also snapped a four game losing streak of their own, maybe getting them back on track for the latter part of their season. The win was not easy as the lead for the Spartans was only 1 at halftime. However, guard Drew Neitzel put the team on his shoulders making crucial shots down the stretch, including a 3 point dagger that would seal the victory for the Spartans.

Neitzel led all scorers with 21 points and 5 assists and was complimented by the freshman forward Raymar Morgan who added 18 points of his own. The Spartans have been forced to rely on their guard play most of the season and have lacked dominance and consistency from their big men. Tom Izzo and MSU fans hope that the play of Morgan last night is a glimpse into the future of Spartan basketball.

Meanwhile, Michigan (17-9) had a very sub-par outing shooting only 35% from the floor. The recent poor play of Michigan, now below .500 in conference play, has raised many concerns regarding post-season hopes.

In the closing weeks of the NCAA college basketball season, this game had several implications. The game was bigger than bragging rights as each team desperately needed a win to help their resume. With hopes of winning a national championship and being part of the ‘March Madness,’ both Michigan and Michigan State are on the bubble of getting into the tournament.

Whether you’re a Wolverine or a Spartan we need one of these teams to step up so our state can have some representation come ‘tourney time.


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