The game started out with the characteristic exchange of runs for the #8 Michigan State Spartans and #17 Wisconsin Badgers, but it wasn’t long before the Spartans jumped out to a commanding lead and an impressive 69-55 win.
The Spartans (21-5, 10-3) excelled in every facet of the game and surely looked like they could be primed for another Final Four run under Tom Izzo.
Meanwhile, the Badgers (19-7, 8-5) appear to lack a realistic identity on the offensive end and were surprisingly exposed defensively at the Breslin Center.
What It Means: Similar to the Ohio State loss, the Badgers should come out of this game realizing that the Spartans are simply a better team. The Badgers also didn’t fare well in Ann Arbor against the Wolverines, thus Wisconsin is most likely the fourth best team in the Big Ten. Not necessarily a bad thing as the conference is perceived as the best in the nation.
By no means is this a bad loss for the Badgers. Michigan State has now won six games over ranked teams (most in the nation) and are one of the best squads in the country.
Player of the Game: Draymond Green (20 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists)
Win or lose, I usually pick a Badgers player, but none of them were very impressive in this one. Ryan Evans did reach double-digit scoring (17 points), now hitting that mark in six of his last seven games, but here’s another chance for me to plug Green as the Big Ten’s Player of the Year.
Green was sensational with his fourteenth double-double of the season, most in the conference and most importantly, more than fellow POY candidate Jerad Sullinger. Not only does Green rack up the numbers, he’s a leader on the floor and has helped a young Spartans team get better each and every night.
Stat of the Game: (33) Those are the number of rebounds the Badgers grabbed, actually beating out the Spartans 33-30 on the glass. Their surge in rebounding helped cut a twenty point deficit down to single digits late in the second half, but just wasn’t enough to overcome all the mistakes with turnovers and points given up in the fast-break early in the game.
What’s Next: The Badgers will return home to play the Penn State Nittany Lions (11-15, 3-10) on Sunday in a 3:00 PM CT tip-off. On January 31st, the pesky Lions tested the Badgers in a close game that UW ultimately won 52-46. In games after a loss, the Badgers are 3-3 on the year, including losing streaks of two and three games. This is a game the Badgers must have, they cannot afford another bad loss at home (Iowa).
What did you think of the Badgers loss in East Lansing? Are the Spartans legit, did the Badgers have a bad game, or a little bit of both? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.Follow paulmbanks