Michigan State tops Michigan for Big Ten Championship
BY SETH GRUEN Staff Reporter March 16, 2014 4:58PM
Players on the Michigan State bench celebrate in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan in the championship of the Big Ten Conference tournament on Sunday, March 16, 2014, in Indianapolis. Michigan State won 69-55. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Updated: March 16, 2014 8:37PM
INDIANAPOLIS — Apparently Branden Dawson was the difference for Michigan State.
The Spartans junior swingman, who missed both of his team’s regular-season losses to Michigan because of injury, was a force in Michigan State’s 69-55 victory over the Wolverines in the Big Ten tournament title game Sunday.
More importantly, according to Michigan coach John Beilein, the Spartans finally have their timing back after enduring a litany of injuries.
In the teams’ first meeting in the conference tournament, Dawson finished with 15 points and six rebounds. But it was Michigan State’s defense that helped the Spartans tear through the tournament, easily winning all three games.
“We can usually pick on one guy,” Beilein said. “There’s nobody to pick on on that team.”
Michigan State hadn’t won three consecutive games since Jan. 21, likely the reason it received a fourth seed in the NCAA tournament.
Now fully healthy, the Spartans flashed their patented physicality inside. They scored 38 points in the paint and outrebounded the Wolverines 38-28.
The loss prevented Michigan from locking up a No. 1 seed. But Beilein was indifferent to his team’s seeding before the bracket was released.
“I’ve never seen so much wasted energy on who is seeded where,” Beilein said. “It is incredible. Maybe I’m stupid. But tell me the difference. Play them anywhere. It doesn’t make a difference. I don’t care where we’re seeded. I don’t care where we play.”