No. 2 Michigan State (26-5, 13-5) vs. Ohio State (11-6, 20-12)
3/11/2016: Indianapolis, IN
The late Yogi Berra once said “It’s déjá vu all over again”. For these two teams, that quote holds true. This is the third meeting between the two teams this season, and the second meeting between MSU and OSU in less than a week.
Michigan State defeated Ohio State in both of the previous matchups. On February 24th, Bryn Forbes led the Spartans with 27 points as they defeated the Buckeyes 81-62 in Columbus. On March 5th, Denzel Valentine had 27 points and 13 assists to lead MSU to a 91-76 victory at home.
In this Big 10 quarterfinal matchup, Ohio State (#7 seed) is looking to keep their hopes of making the NCAA Tournament alive with a victory over MSU. On Thursday, OSU defeated Penn State 79-75 in a tight battle. Marc Loving had 24 points and JaQuan Lyle had 22 points to lead the Buckeyes.
To Michigan State, anything less than a Big 10 Tournament title is a disappointment. The No. 2 seed of the tournament is trying to lock up a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament when brackets are released on Sunday.
Ohio State will have to do something drastically different if they want to defeat the Spartans this time around. Michigan State shot 66% from the field last Saturday, its highest percentage in 9 years. Although it is unlikely Michigan State will shoot that well again, Ohio State gives opponents too many open looks.
Michigan State, although they beat the Buckeyes in both games, lacked focus at times on defense in both matchups. MSU can get away with mediocre defense against inexperienced teams like the Buckeyes, but top-caliber teams that they will likely face later on in the tournament will take advantage of them.
The winner of this game will face the winner of Nebraska vs. Maryland at 3:30 (CBS) on Saturday.
-Kenny Goins (knee) will not play in the Big 10 tournament, but there is a chance he will play in the NCAA tournament. Meanwhile, Marvin Clark will continue to see more playing time in his absence.
-Denzel Valentine is the only college player since assists became a stat in the 1983-1984 season to average 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists per game.
-These two teams met in last year’s quarterfinals with MSU beating the Buckeyes 76-67.
MSU has won 10 of their past 11 games and they show no signs of stopping. Denzel Valentine will have 20+ points, 10+ assists, and 5+ rebounds. MSU will continue to shoot close to 50% from three as they cruise to an easy quarterfinal victory.
MSU 86, OSU 72
MSU Class of 2018