Spartans, Wolverines to clash Saturday; Penn State advances to play Purdue

Michigan guard Zavier Simpson goes up for a layup in the second half of their Big Ten basketball game against Purdue at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor on Tuesday

Big Ten tournament in NYC ends with Purdue & Michigan on CBS

A win Sunday would be the Boilermakers' first Big Ten Tournament championship since 2009, when Purdue great Robbie Hummel won the tournament's MVP. Michigan is simply better than Michigan State.

Purdue, the conference's No. 1 seed, secured its place in the conference title game with a 78-70 win over Penn State Saturday evening.

From our archives is our story from the first Big Ten Tournament title game, played on March 8, 1998 and the only time before today that MI and Purdue battled for the Big Ten postseason tournament title.

There has been a lot said and written about people not happy the conference tournament was held in New York City this week as opposed to the normal stops of Chicago or Indianapolis.

Michigan State: Finds out who it is playing in the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines are just a hard matchup for them as Nick Ward is not quick enough to deal with Wagner and the Michigan's guards were able to turn the corner driving at their Michigan State counterparts.

"Let's go blue!" chants erupted and echoed across a sold-out crowd of 19,812 spectators.

Against Nebraska on Friday, Simpson, who is shooting 51% from the line this season, knocked down all four free throw attempts. "We know if we continue to win we'll be in good shape". "Now we have one more opportunity to get it". "I think when it's all said and done, we'll all say it was worth it. And it was a difference maker". However, Abdur-Rahkman and Simpson sandwiched layups around a missed jumper by Bridges to ignite a 7-2 spurt that Robinson capped with two free throws for a 57-49 edge with 5:23 left.

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"It's all fun, getting the energy in the building and the juices flowing", Matthews said."We had to show them that - they have fight in them - but we've got fight in us as well".

"We acted surprised that he was going to shoot it", Izzo said after the game. Still, it was not enough to counter Michigan's balanced approach that featured five players finishing with at least 12 points scored.

Miles Bridges had 17 points to lead Michigan State before fouling out late.

"I think the play broke down a little bit, and I was dribbling at the top of the key and saw the shot clock was running down, " he said. MSU is a good basketball team, but everyone needs to know their role and strengths for them to take the next step.

MI missed a ton of open looks during the first half, but allowed the Spartans to stay in the game on the offensive glass. "So I'm glad about that".

Follow SN's live updates as MI takes on Purdue with a conference title on the line. The senior scored 26 points Friday but still bothered a sore left ankle struggled Saturday and scored only seven.

MI coach John Beilein said Simpson and Matthews have really been working on free throws before and after practice.

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They'll have time to say goodbye later.

"I'm just trying to stay not too high, not too low, just trying to stay right in the middle".

This was the true definition of a "team game" with five players for MI scoring between 12-15 points. If what the Wolverines did Saturday was a surprise, you haven't been paying attention this season. "We didn't come here to beat Michigan State". Stifling defense, strong rebounding, sticking together - these are the traits that have carried MI to eight straight wins and Sunday's showdown with Purdue.

He's also preached mental toughness, and while that's no easier to quantify, it's worth noting that MI shot 24-of-33 (73 percent) from the foul line and made all six attempts in the final minute.

In the regular season games between these two finalists, Purdue won them both, although the combined margin of victory was just five points. Another lottery-pick-to-be, freshman forward Jaron Jackson Jr., was 5-of-13 from the floor, 1-of-6 from beyond the arc. After Matthews' two 3-pointers, the Wolverines connected on only one of their next 15 tries.

As tough as the Big Ten has been this season, Pearson said this might be the norm for the conference in the future. "There's still another big goal that we're capable of achieving".

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