With a record of 13-5 in Big Ten play this season, the Michigan State Spartans just missed on an opportunity to earn a share of the Big Ten regular-season championship. However, with a victory over Northwestern on Senior Day, the Spartans were able to grab a #3 seed in the Big Ten tournament which earned them a first-round bye and a good chance at winning the whole thing.
On Friday, Michigan State will face the winner of (6) Iowa and (11) Northwestern — who play Thursday on ESPN 2 25 minutes after the Nebraska and Purdue game finishes. The Spartans played both the Hawkeyes and Wildcats once this season and defeated Northwestern by 10 and struggled with Iowa, only defeating them by three.
After Friday’s game, and if they win, Tom Izzo’s ball club will play the winner of #2 Ohio State vs. #7 Purdue or #10 Nebraska. Despite defeating both Nebraska and Purdue during the regular season, the Buckeyes had a bit of trouble with both teams in the closing minutes. These six teams make up the bottom half of the bracket, and their opponent from the top of the bracket, that they would face in the finals, could potentially be five of six teams because of the way the seeding has played out.
#1 Indiana will face the winner of #8 Illinois and #9 Minnesota, two teams that are NCAA Tournament-bound and two teams that defeated the Hoosiers earlier in the season.
Game 2 of the Big Ten tournament is between #5 Michigan and #12 Penn State. Seems like an easy win for the Wolverines, right? Well, not so fast. Penn State had two Big Ten victories during the regular season and guess who one of them was against… Michigan. Now, let’s say that the Wolverines avoid the upset. Then they will face #4 Wisconsin, a team that beat them in an overtime thriller during the season.
Let’s say that the Hoosiers make it to the semi-finals, hypothetically speaking of course. They will more than likely face Wisconsin or Michigan. The Badgers upset Indiana at Assembly Hall on Jan. 15, and in their last regular season game, Tom Crean’s team barely squeaked past the Wolverines.
Alright, let me simplify all of that for you. Back to the bottom half.
Out of the five teams that the Spartans could face before reaching the finals they have a regular season record of 7-1. Ohio State’s record is also 7-1, as the Spartans and Buckeyes split their regular season matchups.
Back to the top.
Indiana’s record vs. their five potential semi-final opponents is 5-3. Wisconsin is 6-1, but the Badgers lost two of their last three regular season games, and let’s be honest, do we really think that Wisconsin could hit another half-court heave like they did against Michigan to send the game into overtime or beat Indiana twice in a row? Nah. And oh yeah, Michigan is 4-4 against their potential semi-final opponents.
If Michigan State can get past Ohio State in the semi-finals, which i think they will, they will win the tournament due to the brawl that will be going on in the top half of the bracket. A Big Ten Tournament victory for MSU might be enough to earn them a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and if not a top seed, for sure a No. 2.