Michigan State Tops In-State Rival, Wins Conference

Colin Koot

Michigan State Basketball beat their biggest rival on senior night to win the Big Ten Conference. Now their sights are set on making a run in the Big Ten Tournament.

The talk of the game was in the second half, where the Spartans excelled on the offensive and defensive end of the floor. After going 1-8 from the field, Cassius Winston had five straight buckets in the half.

Winston led a surging Michigan State team forward, giving them a 75-63 win.  Winston dropped 23 points and seven assists in the contest, both of which were a game high.

“It’s just a different dynamic when he’s on the floor,” said sophomore guard, Jordan Poole.

With the win, the Spartans earned a share of the Big Ten regular season title and the one seed in the Big Ten Tournament.  

“It meant the world, after all we’ve been through, to come out on top,” said junior guard Cassius Winston.

Michigan State erased a six point halftime deficit by shutting down Michigan’s shooting.  The Spartans held the Wolverines to just 28 points in the second half, scoring 46 themselves.

The Spartans had an advantage because Michigan did not have senior guard Charles Matthews available for the game, as he was out for the third straight game with an ankle injury.  

“I was hoping he would be back, he just couldn’t go.  He just didn’t feel right,” said John Beilein, Michigan men’s head basketball coach. “That’s not an excuse though, they could’ve had Ward in there.”

The Spartans were able to send their two seniors,  Matt McQuaid and Kenny Goins, off in proper fashion with the win against their archenemy.  

McQuaid was tasked with guarding Isaiah Livers and Jordan Poole, holding them to just 20 combined points.  He put in nine points of his own, including a pivotal and one in the second half.

Goins had nine points and a game high 16 rebounds, which contributed to the Spartans 46-20 rebounding rout of the Wolverines.  He had the daunting task of matching up with Ignas Brazdeikis, getting him in foul trouble and holding him to just three threes.

Since Michigan State clinched the one seed in the Big Ten Tournament, they will play the winner of a match up between Ohio State and Indiana.

MSU is 2-0 against the Buckeyes this year, beating them by about ten in both meetings.  The Hoosiers have the Spartan’s number this year however, beating them twice by under five points.

Looming on the other side of the bracket are the Purdue Boilermakers and the Michigan Wolverines, two teams vying for better position in the NCAA Tournament.  A possible championship game for MSU would come on Sunday, March 17.

Although the win against Michigan was big, the Spartans continue to look forward to the rest of March.