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2011-2012 Big Ten Men's Basketball

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Big Ten Basketball Weekly Recap


Tuesday, January 31

Illinois 42 Michigan State 41

Wisconsin 52 Penn State 46

Wednesday, February 1

Iowa 63, Minnesota 59

Michigan 68 Indiana 56

Thursday, February 2

Northwestern 84, Nebraska 74

Saturday, February 4

Ohio State 58 Wisconsin 52

Iowa 77 Penn State 64

Indiana 78 Purdue 61

Sunday, February 5

Michigan State 64 Michigan 54

Northwestern 74 Illinois 70

Minnesota 69 Nebraska 61

Northwestern won two games. Iowa won two more games to move to 5-6 in the the Big Ten, creating legitimate hopes for a .500 season in league play. Ohio State won at Wisconsin to avenge last year's loss in Madison to the Badgers. Indiana resuscitated its season with a big road win at Purdue. A lot of newsworthy developments took place over the past seven days, but the game that probably meant the most in this league was the battle for the state of Michigan, a game that the Michigan State Spartans needed after losing three straight to the Michigan Wolverines. This year's second edition of the in-state rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State was a game the Spartans needed. It was also a grand and fiercely contested event that the Spartans won in the end, 64-54.


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At the start it was pretty easy to see that pressure of this annual matchup was in full effect. Both of the teams looked like they were feeling it, which caused a lot of shaky offense to the point where it was only 2-2 at the first media time out (the under-16-minute break). The one component of competition that the two sides both seemed capable of maintaining was their defense. After the time out it was Michigan State that appeared to be the team to get its offense going first by using the old hustle of "if you can't play well than you got to play hard." The energy level that the Spartans were displaying at both ends of the floor, getting all the rebounds and doing most of the scoring, plainly rattled the Wolverines and caused their concerned coach, John Beilein, to call an early timeout to try to put the brakes on Sparty's momentum.

It didn't really help that much to restore Michigan's confidence. Even though they began to score again starting with a few great set plays right out of the time out they still looked unsure of themselves, but at least they were bringing more energy on to the floor. The Spartans, however, did not let up at all. They succeeded at keeping the momentum of the game going their way by continuing to out-rebound the Wolverines. MSU's Draymond Green had more rebounds 16 in total than the whole team of Michigan which only had 15 in total. Green's performance was made all the more impressive by the fact that he got injured late in his team's previous game on Tuesday night against Illinois. As the first half was coming to a close it really could have been worse for the Wolverines: Trey Burke made a last second three pointer to bring his team within eight points after it had been down by double digits at one time during the half. It was 30 to 22 in favor of Michigan State at halftime.

In the second half not much changed for either team; it looked like halftime hadn't even happened. The Wolverines were still playing very tough but without confident offensive play and sustained execution, there was just no way for them to catch up. The worst offender of the day for Michigan in this regard was Tim Hardaway Jr., who made only one basket in the entire game. Meanwhile the Michigan State machine just kept running the Tom Izzo system and grinding it out in true old school basketball style. The only crazy (but not that out of the ordinary) element in this game was the angry and aggressive behavior of these teams, both on and off the floor. Michigan's Zack Novak and the aforementioned Mr. Green were given a warning at one point, but at different time the benches of both teams received technical fouls.

If Michigan had saved some of its fight for its halfcourt offense, it might have fared a lot better on Sunday afternoon. Instead, it was Michigan State which threw most of the punches in a basketball-only sense of the term.



By Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer



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