Big Ten Tourney: Michigan State at Wisconsin – Wisconsin Favored
The third-ranked Badgers and Spartans could be in line for another exciting contest as they meet for the third time in 18 days with a Big Ten tournament matchup in Friday’s quarterfinals at the United Center.
Oddsmakers have made Wisconsin -4 point spread favorites (College Basketball Odds) for todays game, the over/under has
been set at 114.5 total points (View College Basketball Sports Books).
Wisconsin (27-4) and Michigan State (22-10) split their two games during the season, with each winning at home. The Spartans won 64-55 on Feb. 20 behind Drew Neitzel’s 28 points in the Badgers’ first game as a top-ranked team.
Wisconsin barely got its revenge on Saturday with a 52-50 victory. Kammron Taylor made a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left as the Badgers avoided a third straight loss.
"Those were good battles," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "Now, I’m hoping that helps our players. We’ll see."
Badgers star Alando Tucker, named Big Ten player of the year Tuesday, will be facing a team that played what he called "the best defense I’ve faced this season" in last month’s loss. Tucker was limited to 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting in that game, but broke out for 26 points on Saturday.
The Badgers have been unable to contain Neitzel this season. The 6-foot guard is averaging 25.0 points on just under 53 percent shooting in the two games.
"I just think they’re great," said Neitzel about the Badgers. "They were both great games that came down to the wire. It’s two great teams battling it out. We both kind of play the same way, solid defense and don’t pressure too much and kind of stick to our principles."
Neitzel made his first five 3-point attempts and scored 20 points as Michigan State advanced with a 62-57 victory over Northwestern on Thursday. The Spartans led by as many as 16 points in the first half, but had to withstand a rally by the Wildcats that cut the margin to as few as three points in the final minute.
Neitzel’s fast start gave the Spartans enough of a cushion. He quickly added to his Big Ten-leading total of 99 3-pointers with four in the first half.
Michigan State may be in need of another victory to ensure itself a 10th straight NCAA tournament appearance, although coach Tom Izzo doesn’t believe his team’s spot is in jeopardy.
"You know, it’s such a dangerous question because you don’t want to upset anybody, but I thought our merit of work was earned before we came here, I really did," he said. "But that doesn’t mean we were in then and it doesn’t mean we’re in now."
Wisconsin, which boasts its highest victory total in school history, has struggled on offense since the first meeting with Michigan State. The Badgers have shot below 36 percent in each of their last three games.
"I think our momentum right now has pretty much been on the defensive end," Ryan said.
Wisconsin is still getting used to playing without starting center Brian Butch, who dislocated his right elbow in a loss to Ohio State on Feb. 25 and is expected to miss at least a month. Marcus Landry, who started Saturday, or Joe Krabbenhoft will be in the lineup Friday.
"Guys are anxious," Tucker said. "It’s always sad when you lose a teammate, but we can’t hang our head."
by: Marc Young – theSpread.com – Email Us
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