Preview: Men's basketball looks to avenge January loss to Wolverines
Who: University of Michigan Wolverines (26-7, 13-5 Big Ten)
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City
When: 2 p.m.
TV/Radio: CBS/Spartan Sports Network
NEW YORK — No. 2 men’s basketball (29-3, 16-2 Big Ten) didn’t get a chance in the regular season to avenge its January loss to Michigan. But the Spartans will have another crack at the team in maize and blue on Saturday, as both teams advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament with wins on Friday.
The Spartans, the top-seeded team in the field, edged by the ninth-seeded Wisconsin Badgers, 63-60. The fifth-seeded Wolverines blew out the No. 4 seed, Nebraska, by 19 points Friday.
“Do I want a chance at them again? Yes,” head coach Tom Izzo said in his postgame press conference Friday. “Do I want a chance at Nebraska if it helps us move on to the championship game? Yes.”
Izzo and the team will get the former, and a chance to redeem its third and final loss of the season up until this point. Since falling to the Wolverines by 10 points at the Breslin Center back on Jan. 13, the Spartans have won 13 straight games.
U-M junior Moritz Wagner lit up the Cornhuskers much like he did the Spartans in the first meeting, when he scored a career-high 27 points. The Berlin-native dropped in 20 points on 9-16 shooting from the floor in Friday’s game against Nebraska. Wolverine senior two guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and sophomore point guard Zavier Simpson followed behind Wagner, scoring 21 points and 12 points, respectively.
"Michigan State is a very good team that deserves to win the Big Ten championship the way they play," Wagner said. "So it's on tomorrow and it's a great team."
Both U-M guards outscored sophomore point guard Cassius Winston back on Jan. 13. Simpson went 4-of-8 from the field and scored 16 points, and Abdur-Rahkman put in 14 while going 7-for-7 from the charity stripe.
Winston, who shot just 3-of-7 from the floor in the first meeting, said after the Spartans’ win over the Badgers he wouldn’t mind having another go-around at the Wolverines.
“I definitely won’t be disappointed to get another opportunity to go out there,” Winston said. “And I definitely, myself, get an opportunity to go out there and play against them. I think I dropped the ball last game.”
Winston scored 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting against the Badgers, and the team as a whole shot just 43 percent overall on Friday, but still limited Wisconsin to shooting 46 percent and 35 percent from 3-point territory.
The Wolverines put forth a more stout defensive performance on Friday, however, as they held the Cornhuskers to a 30 percent field goal percentage and a 25 percent 3-point shooting clip.
While sophomore wing Miles Bridges, like his coach, didn’t put too much into the possibility of playing the Wolverines, the stud forward said he believes a win over the in-state rivals will have a little bit more meaning.
“We’d like to prepare for both teams, but if we play Michigan, it will be more of a pride thing as well,” Bridges said.