Thursday, February 22, 2024

Preview: MSU women's basketball looks to take the Big Ten Tournament one play at a time

March 2, 2023
Michigan State guard Matilda Ekh (11) defends the ball against Indiana guard Yarden Garzon (12) during the Spartants victory over the Hoosiers on Dec. 29, 2022.
Michigan State guard Matilda Ekh (11) defends the ball against Indiana guard Yarden Garzon (12) during the Spartants victory over the Hoosiers on Dec. 29, 2022. —
Photo by Rahmya Trewern | The State News

After closing out the regular season on a two-game win streak, the Michigan State women’s basketball team is looking to maintain its momentum going into the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday.

MSU is headed into the tournament at the No. 9 seed for the fifth time in history. The team is set to take on No. 8 Nebraska (16-13, 8-10) in the second round at 12:30 pm on Thursday.

The Spartans and the Cornhuskers have met just one other time this season with Nebraska taking the win despite a lively, near-comeback on the Spartan’s behalf.

Michigan State fell the the Huskers on the road 71-67 on Feb. 2—just a few days after Head Coach Suzy Merchant’s medical incident that has kept her out since the end of January.

Immediately following Merchants accident, the Spartans dropped three games in a row before winning four of their last five. Michigan State has been playing consistently better since its last meeting with Nebraska, and sophomore guard/forward Matilda Ekh said that their momentum is helping them going into the tournament.

“We're coming off a couple of wins, and I feel like we have had a couple of good practices too,” Ekh said. “I think we're going into tournament with a good feeling.”


If the Spartans take down the Huskers in the second round, they move on to a quarter-final battle against No. 1 seed Indiana.

Back in December, Michigan State defeated the Hoosiers at home 83-78 to hand them one of their mere two loses this entire season.

Sophomore guard DeeDee Hagemann — who currently holds the all-time Spartan assist-turnover ratio record—said that although the team is looking forward to a possible rematch against Indiana, Nebraska is first on everyones’ minds.

“We're extremely focused on Nebraska, and Dean (Lockwood) keeps telling us not to look ahead—because we really want that Indiana win again—but no, we got to beat Nebraska first,” Hagemann said. “Just take it one day at a time, one game at a time, and we can't get too ahead of ourselves.”

In last year’s tournament, the Spartans held the No. 8 seed going into Indianapolis. MSU started off hot defeating No. 9 Purdue before falling to No. 1 Ohio State 74-58 in the quarterfinal round.

The Big Ten Conference has been a powerhouse this season with five teams sitting in the AP Top 25 at the end of the regular season — No. 2 Indiana, No. 5 Maryland, No. 7 Iowa, No. 14 Ohio State and No. 17 Michigan.

“I anticipate it's gonna be great. I can't see people not coming out to watch this. I think arguably, it's the best league in the country … If you take us top to bottom, I'll stack our league up against anybody in the country,” interim head women's basketball coach Dean Lockwood said. “This is a dynamite Women's Basketball League. The players, the team play, the coaching, I mean — I'm telling you right now. I just think people are gonna come out. It's gonna be a fun, fun tournament.”


All games of the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament will be televised nationally on the Big Ten Network and the Spartans will take to the court against Nebraska at 12:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

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