[March 17, 2014]INDIANAPOLIS — Michigan's march to
a No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed went off the rails on Sunday.
Michigan State claimed a 69-55 Big Ten tournament victory that
denied the Wolverines the postseason title to match their
It also cost the Wolverines a top NCAA seed. Instead, Michigan was
No. 2 in the Midwest Region behind unbeaten Wichita State.
"I think Michigan would have been a top NCAA seed had they won,"
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
Forward Adreian Payne scored a game-high 18 points as the Spartans
(26-8) claimed the Big Ten's automatic NCAA Tournament berth and
earned a No. 4 seed in the East Region.
Michigan State maintained a perfect record in Big Ten
championship-game appearances with its fourth in four tries and
second in three seasons.
Eighth-ranked Michigan, the Big Ten regular-season champ and No. 1
seed in the tournament, struggled from the field much of the
afternoon, finishing 17 of 54 (31.5 percent) as guards Nik Stauskas
scored 17 points and Derrick Walton Jr. added 11.
Guards Branden Dawson (the tournament's Most Outstanding Player) and
Gary Harris each added 15 points for Michigan State.
"(The Spartans) were exceptional in everything they did," Michigan
coach John Beilein said. "Their defense was really good, their
steals in the first half and their offensive rebounding just took
possessions from us."
The No. 22-ranked Spartans, seeded No. 3 in the tournament, also
took advantage of nine Wolverines turnovers and converted them into
18 points, outscored Michigan 16-3 on fast breaks and had a 38-20
advantage in points in the paint.
"I told our guys I think our defense is going to make the difference
tonight," Izzo said. "We were so much better defensively in this
The Wolverines' first-half highlights came early as they jumped to a
quick but short-lived 9-4 lead four minutes into the game. The
Spartans replied when Dawson's three-point play launched a 12-0 run
that extended to a 21-5 surge for a 25-14 lead with 9:16 left in the
Guard Keith Appling's steal and layup with 4:39 left in the half
opened a 35-24 Michigan State advantage, its second 11-point edge of
Michigan went nearly 4:30 without a field goal while hitting seven
free throws during the span. Walton's layup with 4:24 left ended the
The Wolverines crept back to within seven points at 37-26 with 1:59
left in the half, but Harris' dunk as time expired pushed Michigan
State's halftime lead to 38-29.
Michigan missed its first five shots from the field in the second
half and Michigan State extended its lead to 46-29 — its biggest to
that point — on back-to-back Payne jumpers and a Dawson layup
followed by a dunk with 16:57 remaining.
"I thought we had a couple of really good looks and didn't convert
and they did," Beilein said. "All of a sudden it's 15 and now you're
fighting back the whole way."
The Wolverines never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
Michigan advanced to the semifinals with Saturday's 72-69 semifinal
victory over Ohio State, the Wolverines' first postseason win over
the Buckeyes in seven meetings. Michigan State reached the final
with an 83-75 semifinal victory over Wisconsin.
"This has been a big year for Michigan State," Izzo said. "This
year, our football team came to Indianapolis to win a Big Ten
championship followed by our basketball team now winning a Big Ten
championship. This has been a special year."
NOTES: Sunday's title-game appearance was Michigan's second overall
and first as a No. 1 seed. The Wolverines beat Purdue 76-67 for the
1998 title in Chicago. ... Big Ten Player of the Year Nik Stauskas
came in third in conference scoring with an overall 17.5 average and
the Michigan guard had averaged 18.5 in two tournament games. ...
Stauskas is also among 15 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award as
national player of the year. ... Michigan's John Beilein, Big Ten
coach of the year selection by the media, entered the game two wins
shy of 700 during a 36-season career, including seven years in Ann
Arbor. ... Michigan State entered Sunday unbeaten in three previous
championship game appearances (1999, 2000 and 2012). Michigan State
played 13 of 18 Big Ten games with players out with injuries. The
Spartans have only been whole since March 1 when G/F Branden Dawson