Late rush lifts Michigan State Spartans past Michigan Wolverines for Big 10 men's basketball title
By ANDREW SELIGMAN
AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO — Michigan State coach Tom Izzo had one simple question for his team. He got the answer he wanted, and the sixth-ranked Spartans picked up their sixth Big Ten Tournament championship.
Now, they’ll try to bring home the biggest prize of all.
Matt McQuaid scored a career-high 27 points, Cassius Winston converted the go-ahead layup in the closing minute, and the Spartans rallied to beat No. 10 Michigan 65-60 in the Big Ten final on Sunday.
Top-seeded Michigan State (28-6) scored the game’s final 10 points to capture its first championship since 2016. No other program has won the conference tournament as many times as Michigan State, and this one was particularly sweet.
After all, the Spartans prevented a championship three-peat by Michigan (28-6) and beat their rivals for the third time this season.
“I asked them all today, ‘What do you want to do?'” Izzo said. “Pregame meal, ‘What do you want to do? You want to play for the (NCAA) Tournament or you want to play the game?’ That sounds like a stupid question, but if you knew where my guys were at as far as physically, it was a good question to ask. Once they said ‘We want to play the game,’ I said, ‘You just gave me a license for 40 minutes of hell, so you better get going because I’m not letting up.'”
“They responded and I think they enjoyed it,” he continued. “So did I.”
McQuaid nailed a personal-best seven 3-pointers. Winston, the Big Ten Player of the Year, had 14 points and 11 assists as Michigan State won for the 10th time in 11 games.
“It’s always big,” McQuaid said. “Michigan’s a really good team. Beating them three times … it’s hard to do.”
Both teams were awarded No. 2 seeds in the NCAA Tournament and will play Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa. Michigan State faces Bradley in the East Region, while Michigan goes against Montana in the West. The Wolverines beat Montana last year on the way to the national championship game.
Ignas Brazdeikas led Michigan with 19 points. Jordan Poole scored 13. Jon Teske had 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Zavier Simpson added 10 assists.
But the third-seeded Wolverines fell again to Michigan State after blowing their chance to win the league by losing to their rivals twice in the final four regular-season games.