NEW YORK — Michigan State’s hopes for an outright Big Ten title were dashed by in-state rival Michigan on Saturday during the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament at Madison Square Garden. The No. 1 seed Spartans (29-4 overall, 16-2 Big Ten) dropped the intense contest 75-64 to the No. 5 seed Wolverines (27-7, 13-5).
WHY: The Spartans could not match the Wolverines’ energy or keep up shot for shot in the second half. Michigan went on a 10-3 run out of halftime to take a 36-31 lead. Michigan State kept it close, but trailed the rest of the way.
Both teams struggled from deep in the first half, converting just 22 percent of their 3-pointers. But it was worse for Michigan, which just made just 4 of 18 attempts from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes. The Wolverines scored 13 points in the game’s first 3 minutes, 30 seconds. They scored 13 points the rest of the half.
But Michigan’s shooting fortunes turned in the second half, as the Wolverines shot 67 percent from the field — connecting on 12 of its 18 shots — and went 5 for 7 on 3-pointers in the frame.
Trailing 14-6, Michigan State went on a 10-0 run to take its first lead of the game. The Spartans would not be able to hold on.
The Spartans outscored the Wolverines 30-20 in the paint, but could not take advantage of the disparity.
WHAT IT MEANS: For the second straight year, Michigan has reached the tournament’s title game, which it won in 2017.
But for the Spartans, the loss means they will have to wait eight days for Selection Sunday to see if their resume will be strong enough to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. A win over Michigan would have helped erase some doubt, but now the Spartans’ chances for a No. 1 seed depends on the successes and shortcoming of other programs.
WHO STARRED: Zavier Simpson had 7 of the Wolverines’ first 10 points. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, for the third consecutive day, was effective from the outside, connecting on 3 of 6 3-pointers and finishing with 15 points.
Miles Bridges kept Michigan State in the game. Despite shooting 7 of 18 from the floor, Bridges scored 17 points and hauled in 7 rebounds. Matt McQuaid added 9 big points, going 3 for 5 from 3-point range.
WHO STUMBLED: Once again, Jaren Jackson Jr. could not stay on the floor. He was involved in two scrums under the basket early in the game, the second of which resulted in a technical for teammate Nick Ward. Spartans coach Tom Izzo chose to sit the Big Ten’s Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year for 4 minutes after the play. Jackson Jr. scored 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting, with 5 of those points coming with the outcome already decided. He misfired on all but 1 of his 6 of his 3-point attempts.
Michigan’s Moritz Wagner missed his first six 3-point attempts before finally hitting, but he still recorded 15 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
WHO IS NEXT: Michigan will face the winner of the Purdue-Penn State semifinal matchup. The championship game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET (CBS).
WHO WAS THERE: NCAA Tournament Selection Committee Chairman Bruce Rassmussen, who is also Creighton’s athletic director, watched the game courtside. Both programs are safe NCAA Tournament seeds, but perhaps Michigan bolstered its resume with the strong performance over a premiere team.