Matt McQuaid Leads Michigan State to Conference Tournament Victory

Colin Koot

The Michigan State Spartans overcame a massive deficit to beat their in-state rival for the Big Ten Tournament Championship on Sunday, March 17.

MSU came back from a double digit hole in order to beat the Michigan Wolverines for a Big Ten Conference Tournament victory to go with their regular season championship.  Senior guard Matt McQuaid led the Spartans with 27 points behind seven three pointers.

McQuaid hit several threes in moments when it seemed like the offense was stagnant.  He was a major part of Michigan State’s second half comeback to beat Michigan for the third time on the season.

“It’s always big,” said Michigan State senior guard Matt McQuaid. “Michigan’s a really good team. Beating them three times … it’s hard to do.”

MSU faced a 13 point deficit in the first part of the second half, but was able to to tie it at 48 with seven minutes remaining courtesy of a 13-4 run.  The Wolverines went up 60-55 with 2:30 left, but never scored again.

Junior guard Cassius Winston made a layup over Michigan center Jon Teske to put MSU up 62-60 with 29 seconds left.  Following a controversial out of bounds call that went to the Spartans, freshman guard Aaron Henry made the front end of a one and one but missed the back half.

After a missed shot from Michigan sophomore guard Jordan Poole, MSU senior forward Kenny Goins sunk both free throws, which put the Spartans ahead by five with two seconds left to seal the victory.

The Spartans scored the last ten points of the game, propelling them to a Big Ten Tournament championship.  They ended Michigan’s streak of two straight Big Ten Tournament Championships.

“You lose three times in a season to your rival, it’s gonna hurt,” said Michigan sophomore forward Isaiah Livers. “But we’ll use it as motivation for the NCAA tournament.”

Both teams were awarded a two seed for the NCAA tournament and will play in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, March 21.  Michigan State will face the Bradley Braves while the Wolverines play the Montana Grizzlies.

Michigan State was placed in the East region with the number one overall seed, the Duke Blue Devils.  The Wolverines have a potential elite eight matchup with the number one seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs in the West region.

“Michigan can advance far because they ended up in the region with the worst number one seed,” said freshman Brett Showers.

The Spartans are looking to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament behind the momentum generated by their Big Ten Tournament victory.