Bucks look for share of Big Ten Title against Spartans

10:58 AM, Mar 4, 2012   |    comments
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East Lansing, MI - The fifth-ranked Michigan State Spartans will have a chance to claim an outright Big Ten Conference regular season title this afternoon as they host the 10th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in their regular season finale showdown at the Breslin Center.

Michigan State snapped its three-game losing streak to the Buckeyes when the two Big Ten powers squared off on Feb. 11 at Value City Arena last month. The Spartans earned a 58-48 decision in the first meeting of this season to extend their all-time series lead to 64-53.

Thad Matta's team can win a share of the Big Ten regular season title, as a win would tie it up with the home team and possibly Michigan depending on the outcome of the Wolverines' contest with Penn State. The Buckeyes defeated the Northwestern Wildcats, 75-73, in a thriller on Wednesday to keep pace in the league's standings. Ohio State has found success this season on both ends of the floor as it is ranked second in the Big Ten in both scoring offense (74.7) and scoring defense (58.1).

The Buckeyes were relieved to see Jared Sullinger snap out of his slump against Northwestern on Wednesday as he led the team with 22 points and 18 rebounds while making the game-winning turnaround layup with seconds left to play. Sophomore Deshaun Thomas is second on the team with 15.2 ppg, while William Buford is a close third with 14.8 points per game. Freshman guard Aaron Craft had one of his best performances of the season against Northwestern as he hit 5-of-7 shots, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, to score 14 points.

Tom Izzo's squad had its seven-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday as it suffered a 70-55 setback to the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall. Michigan State's loss was partially due to the Hoosiers' ability to get to the foul line and convert 19-of-22 free throws, while MSU went just 10-of-17 from the charity stripe. The loss dropped the Spartans' record to 24-6 overall and kept OSU and Michigan alive in the race for first. The Spartans have outscored their opponents by an average of 13.7 ppg this season.

Draymond Green has been the driving force of the Spartans' success this season. The senior forward averages a double-double with 16.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest. Green had 28 points and eight rebounds as the Spartans came up short against Indiana on Wednesday. Keith Appling is the team's second leading scorer, as he averaging 11.5 points and a team-high 3.8 assists per outing. Branden Dawson, Brandon Wood, and Derrick Nix get into the mix consistently for Izzo as well.


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