Terps look to down Spartans in Big Ten contest

Chicago, IL ( - The semifinal round of the Big Ten Tournament concludes Saturday afternoon with a matchup between the third- seeded Michigan State Spartans and the eighth-ranked and second-seeded Maryland Terrapins at the United Center.

The winner advances to Sunday's conference championship bout, with the NCAA Tournament's automatic bid on the line.

Michigan State was able to earn a 76-67 victory over sixth-seeded Ohio State on Friday to advance to the semifinal round. The Spartans head into the semifinal matchup with the Terrapins on a three-game win streak.

Maryland and Indiana battled back and forth for the better part of Friday's contest, but it was Maryland that came out on top in a 75-69 victory. The Terrapins have won eight consecutive games entering the semifinal matchup.

The two conference rivals met a pair of times during the regular season, and both decisions went to the Terrapins. The first contest in East Lansing went to double overtime, where the Terps won, 68-66. The Spartans then dropped a 75-59 game in College Park on Jan. 17.

Michigan State dominated Ohio State on the defensive end of the floor, especially in the first half. The Buckeyes only connected on 33.3 percent of their shots in the frame, and finished the game shooting 39.7 percent from the field. Denzel Valentine netted 23 points to pace Michigan State, while Travis Trice chipped in 18 points and Branden Dawson added 14 with eight rebounds and seven assists.

Trice entered the game on Friday leading the team in scoring with 14.8 ppg, though Valentine wasn't very far behind at 14.5 ppg for a Spartans squad that averaged 72.2 ppg going into the Big Ten Tournament. In Michigan State's 75-59 loss to Maryland back in January, Dawson tallied a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Matt Costello came off the bench to 12 points in the defeat.

Maryland played a well-rounded game against Indiana on Friday, connecting on 44.9 percent of its field goal tries in the contest while holding the offensively strong Hoosiers to a mere 35.5 percent shooting. Dez Wells scored 22 points with six rebounds to pace the Terps, while Melo Trimble added 17 points and both Jake Layman and Jared Nickens added 10 points apiece.

Headed into Friday's contest, Trimble was leading the Terrapins in scoring at 16.1 ppg, while Wells chipped in 15.3 ppg. Maryland beat Michigan State twice this season, but in the most recent victory over the Spartans, Trimble led the team with 24 points, and Layman added a double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds. The Terps hit on an impressive 20-of-22 from the free-throw line in that victory.