Big Ten semifinal pits Badgers against Spartans
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - The fourth-seeded Wisconsin Badgers will get a third chance to take down the top-seeded Michigan State Spartans when the two programs square off in the semifinal round of the Big Ten Conference Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Whichever team comes out on top will advance to the championship game to face the winner of the Ohio State/Michigan bout.
This will be the third encounter this season and 131st in history between the Badgers and Michigan State. The Spartans extended their series lead to 71-60 with a sweep of the regular season series. Michigan State first escaped its trip to Madison with a 63-60 win on Jan. 3. The Badgers were unable to return the favor when they visited East Lansing, as they suffered a 69-55 setback in their second try against the Spartans on Feb. 16.
The 14th-ranked Badgers did not follow their blueprint on Friday in a 79-71 victory over the Indiana Hoosiers in the quarterfinal round. Wisconsin looked like a completely different team as it lit up the scoreboard while allowing Indiana offensive success. Coach Bo Ryan has built the Badgers into the best defensive team in the NCAA, as it allows only 51.9 ppg. Wisconsin's 79 points set a new team-high in Big Ten play for the season.
The main reason for the unusually stellar offensive performance by Wisconsin on Friday was senior guard Rob Wilson's unexpected career-best performance. Wilson shattered his previous career-high of 13 points as he poured in 30 points while shooting 11-of-16 from the floor and 7-of-10 from long distance. Jared Berggren added 16 points and nine rebounds, while Jordan Taylor and Ryan Evans chipped in 12 points each. Taylor, who has been the team's leader all season, will need to bounce back from his 3-of-12 shooting performance on Friday.
Michigan State opened up its postseason by handling Iowa, 92-75, behind a strong first half performance in which is made 70 percent of its field goal attempts. The 8th ranked Spartans have excelled on both ends of the floor this season, as they rank third in the Big Ten in scoring offense (72.5 ppg) and scoring defense (59.2 ppg). Coach Tom Izzo has led the Spartans to six NCAA Final Fours, one National Championship, and 14 straight appearances in the Big Dance. Despite his unbelievable success over the past decade, Izzo has not guided a team to the Big Ten Conference Tournament title since 2000.
Draymond Green was named the Big Ten Player of the Year on Monday, and he showed why on Friday in the Spartans' postseason debut, as he finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists in 24 minutes of action. Green recorded double-doubles in both of MSU's regular season victories over Wisconsin. Keith Appling found success against Wisconsin as well, as he averaged 18 ppg versus the Badgers this season.
03/10 10:50:58 ET