U of M, MSU lose in Big Ten Tournament after rivalry game

Courtesy of ESPN

Courtesy of ESPN

Holly Bihlman, Staff Writer

On Sunday, March 7, the Michigan State Spartans stole the win from the Michigan Wolverines, currently ranked first in the Big Ten conference. The Spartans, sitting in 8th, are at 15-12 (9-11 in the Big Ten) while the Wolverines have climbed to the top of the NCAA rankings at 20-4 (14-3 Big Ten).

The Spartans previously had some big wins against the University of Illinois and Ohio State University in February despite their lower ranking in the NCAA. This rivalry game solidified the Spartans spot in the NCAA Tournament. 

Spartan sophomore guard Robert “Rocket” Watts led the scoreboard with 21 points coming off the bench, while the Wolverines’ Eli Brooks had to leave the game with a twisted ankle four minutes into the first half.

The Wolverines offensive game was lacking, as the team missed 15 out of 22 threes and shot just 41.7 percent from the floor. MSU found cracks in Michigan’s game and went in full throttle.

MSU junior forward Aaron Henry followed closely behind Watts with 18 points. Watts may have solidified his place in the starting lineup for the Spartans, certainly showing Hall of Fame head coach Tom Izzo what he has to offer off the bench. 

In the last minute of the game, redshirt senior Josh Langford gave the Spartans the lead with a three pointer, putting the score at 64-59. Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson brought the Wolverines close to victory, but the team lost by two points by the end of game.

In a heartfelt moment between coach and star player, Tom Izzo was pictured hugging Watts after the game. It was an emotional game for Watts as his mother was back in the stands.

After the big win for Michigan State, the Big Ten Tournament began on Wednesday, March 10

Michigan’s loss on Sunday could be because of Brook’s departure from the game early on, but now with another big threat on the team being out for the season, Michigan may be in trouble. On top of Eli Brooks’ twisted ankle, Isaiah Livers will be sidelined indefinitely with a stress injury on his foot for the NCAA Tournament.

Another upset followed U of M into the Big Ten Tournament as they fell to OSU 68-67. After battling back into the game by the final seconds of the contest, Michigan had one last controversial possession where they failed to score. The Spartans faced off against Maryland University and had similar luck as the U of M had. MSU lost to Maryland 68-57. 

Although Michigan has had a successful season, their losses to MSU and OSU were shocking and frankly a little embarrassing considering their seed in the Big Ten. Despite Michigan’s track record of being among the top teams in the Big Ten and NCAA, these losses show an inability to succeed in crunch time and in big moments. 

Michigan State’s lack of urgency on the court has been the cause of their rough season. Even with their loss to Maryland, MSU is still in the NCAA tournament because of their victory against the U of M. Izzo may still be able to get his team ready for redemption as they await their seed in the NCAA Tournament. 

Selection Sunday will reveal their first-round matchups and give both teams another shot at bringing home another win for the fans. This will also give Michigan another opportunity to redeem themselves after two upsetting losses.