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<< Sports >>

NCAA Basketball

Spartans upset top-ranked Badgers

MSU still eyeing tourney

by Andrew Poloni
poloni@americajr.com

The Michigan State Spartans and the energetic crowd at the Breslin Center Tuesday night were determined to not let the Wisconsin Badgers get too comfortable in their new position atop the AP poll.

The unranked Spartans pulled off a stunning upset by beating the number one ranked Badgers 64-55 keeping their shot at an NCAA tournament bid alive.

The win marked the first time that Michigan State has beaten a number one ranked team since 1979, when the Spartans beat Indiana State to win the national championship.

The Badgers had moved to number one on Monday following Florida’s loss to Vanderbilt last week.
Michigan State got another great game from star junior guard Drew Neitzel. He finished the night with a game high 28 points.

Neitzel seemed to make a big play whenever Michigan State needed him to step up. Neitzel ended a dismal offensive stretch for the Spartans in the second half where they only scored four points in 8:42 by hitting back-to-back three pointers.

Neitzel’s three pointers put the Spartans up 51-49, and they never looked back.

Wisconsin took a one point lead to the locker room at halftime following a hard fought first half. The Badgers escaped with a 30-29 lead after a half that saw 11 lead changes.

Alando Tucker, Wisconsin senior guard and player of the year candidate, led all scorers in the first half with 14 points. He shot 80 percent from three point range making four of five attempts in the half.

The Spartan defense answered the call in the second half however, and held Tucker to only four points in the half. After a solid first half, Tucker finished with only 16 points.

Michigan State beat Wisconsin on the glass and pulled down 36 rebounds to the Badgers’ 23. The Spartans also finished the game with five blocks.

The Spartans were also successful at sending Wisconsin, a team that thrives at getting to the line and making free throws, to the free throw line 12 times.

Sophomore forward Marcus Landry came off the bench for Wisconsin and scored a team high 18 points.

Travis Walton, Spartan sophomore guard, notched his first career double-double scoring 13 points and adding 10 assists.

With Tuesday’s improbably upset, Michigan State has kept its hope of a tournament spot alive.

It’s possible that the Spartans caught the Badgers looking ahead to their match-up with the Ohio State Buckeyes, the number one team in the ESPN/USA Today poll, for the Big Ten championship on Saturday.

Whatever the case, Michigan State will have to count on another outstanding effort when they close out the regular season in Madison squaring off with the Badgers again.

 

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