Later this afternoon, the #1-seeded Michigan State Spartans will take on the #3-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Tournament Championship. Neither team will be sweating out a big come The Selection Show, but today’s game could have major implications on the #1 seed line.
Related: Check out the latest bracketology to see where Ohio State and Michigan State are headed into today’s game.
Big Ten Championship Game Info
- Matchup: #1 Michigan State v #3 Ohio State
- Time: 3:30 ET
- TV: CBS
- Point Spread: Michigan State -2
- Over/Under: 136.5
- Season Series: Michigan State won at Ohio State 58-48; Ohio State won at Michigan State 72-70
Big Ten Championship Game Preview
Conference tournaments get a bad rap sometimes, and rightfully so. (This guy agrees.)
I think it’s silly that conferences reward their automatic bid to the teams that get hot over four days rather than the team that proved itself better over the balance of the regular season. But no automatic bids are on the line today in Indianapolis, and the Big Ten Championship Game matchup between Michigan State and Ohio State really does feel like the perfect final game of the season to decide the Big Ten champion.
Though Michigan tied Michigan State and Ohio State for the regular season Big Ten crown, the Spartans and Buckeyes have shown during the Big Ten Tournament what most thought heading into the season and, for the most part, during it: they are the class of the Big Ten. Today we’ll find out who’s #1.
Interestingly, each team won in the other’s home arena. Michigan State leveled the Buckeyes by 10 points in Columbus during a time when Ohio State seemed to be coasting through the regular season. The Buckeyes got their act together towards the end of the regular season and earned a thrilling comeback victory over the Spartans in East Lansing to end the regular season.
In that game, Michigan State lost uber-athletic freshman Branden Dawson to an ACL injury. The Spartans have been able to beat comparatively unathletic Iowa and Wisconsin without Dawson, but his presence should be more acutely felt today against the very athletic Buckeyes. Dawsen only scored 3 points in the first matchup, but he did grab 8 rebounds in 20 minutes. In the second game, he’d scored four points and had two steals in seven minutes before having to leave. Not having Dawsen isn’t debilitating for Michigan State, but it sure would help in defending the athleticism and size Ohio State possesses.
This game also features two of the best players in America in Draymond Green and Jared Sullinger. Look for both to have excellent games, though Green needs to cut down on his turnovers to be a more efficient presence for his team. Sullinger will need to navigate the tricky down-law waters in which Adrienne Payne and Derrick Nix lurk. They have held Sullinger to 10-32 shooting in the teams’ two matchups this year. If Sullinger has a similarly poor shooting day today, then William Buford and DeShaun Thomas will have to compensate, or the Spartans will be Big Ten champions.
On the Michigan State side, Keith Appling has only dished out three assists against Ohio State this year. That can be attributed, in part, to the defense of Aaron Craft. As Indiana proved in Bloomington, if you can frustrate Appling and take him out of his game, it hurts Michigan State’s offense. Craft has the defensive chops to do so, and the Buckeyes need him to.
Big Ten Championship Game Prediction
This is a very tough game to predict. As the teams’ proved during the regular season, winning in each other’s home arenas, these two are so evenly matched that the game is truly a toss-up.
But since I have to pick someone, I’ll go with…Ohio State.
It’s really more of a gut feeling than anything else. Jared Sullinger seems to be playing better of late, and I’m sure he wants to avenge his frustrating earlier performances against the Spartans. It won’t be easy, and Payne/Nix will make him work for every point, but I think Sullinger will at least be able to make 40% of his shots this time around, which will be a marked improvement.
Ohio State seems to be righting itself at the right time, which is bad news for everyone in the NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes have Final Four talent, and when they aren’t coasting and are playing together they can beat anyone, anytime, anyplace. I think they get it done today.