Just like the matchup last Sunday, Wisconsin gave Michigan State a tough test and Friday's quarterfinal matchup went down to the wire. The Spartans were able to hold on despite a scrappy Wisconsin effort, 63-60.
The game went back-and-forth all afternoon long, but the Spartans utilized a big run late to seal the deal. However, Wisconsin's Brad Davison had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer, but his 3-pointer fell short.
Wisconsin (15-18) played the Spartans tough thanks to Ethan Happ's 22 points and Aleem Ford's nine points, all on 3-pointers, off the bench.
Michigan State (29-3) was led by Miles Bridges who scored 20 and grabbed nine rebounds. Cassius Winston had 17 points as well, but the biggest shot of the game came from Matt McQuaid whose 3-point make gave the Spartans a five-point lead with a minute left.
The Spartans will take on the winner of the Michigan vs. Nebraska game on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET in the semifinal.
Michigan State holds on, 63-60
Jaren Jackson Jr. got an offensive rebound after a Miles Bridges open 3-point miss and scored to make it 60-56. Wisconsin went down and scored to make it a two-point game again. Jackson Jr. fouled out on a questionable drive by Ethan Happ. He missed the front-end of a one-and-one and Matt McQuaid hit a huge 3-pointer to give the Spartans a five point lead with just over a minute left, 63-58. Brad Davison went down and scored on an easy layup and Bridges was then fouled. He missed the front-end of the one-and-one, giving Wisconsin a chance to tie with the shot clock turned off. The Badgers then attempted a 3-pointer at the buzzer and it fell well short.
Spartans hold slim lead
Both Michigan State and Wisconsin missed some open shots out of the timeout, but the Spartans got the ball back and Miles Bridges found Jaren Jackson Jr. in the post, who has been sitting with foul trouble, and he finished a clutch and-one. Matt McQuaid took a pass in the corner, drove the baseline and nifty layup. Wisconsin responded with four consecutive points to cut the Spartans' seven-point lead to just three. Ethan Happ would get a free throw after the under-four timeout with a chance to pull within two. Happ made it, making it 58-56 Michigan State.
Spartans, Badgers exchanging blows
Ethan Happ scored on an easy, uncontested dunk out of Wisconsin's timeout and Nick Ward scored on the other end of the floor. Then, following the under-12 timeout, Khalil Iverson scored on a layup. Miles Bridges hit a jumper and then with the shot clock expiring, Aleem Ford hit a desperation 3-pointer from the corner to tie it up. Xavier Tillman scored on a nifty spin move layup against Happ who then went down to tie it back up at 51-51 on a layup of his own. Cassius Winston hit a transition jumper to give the Spartans a lead again at the under-eight timeout.
Michigan State on a 7-0 run
Wisconsin's run extended to 10-0 as Nate Reuvers made a turnaround basket and Khalil Iverson grabbed an offensive rebound and made the put-back. Josh Langford answered back with a driving layup which could have easily been an and-one, making it 42-40 Wisconsin. Miles Bridges hit a 3-pointer after a Wisconsin offensive foul to give the Spartans a 43-42 lead. Bridges then shook Brad Davison and made a jumper from the free throw line to give the Spartans a 7-0 run, forcing Wisconsin to take a timeout.
Back-and-forth game continues
Cassius Winston began the second half with a runner to give the Spartans a six-point lead, but just like that, Ethan Happ responded with a layup and then a jumper to pull within two. Winston made a jumper to extend the lead again and Miles Bridges also added a field goal, but Wisconsin's Aleem Ford made a 3-pointer to cut the lead to three, 38-35. Ford then hit a second straight three to tie the game, 38-38, at the under-16 timeout.
Spartans regain lead by halftime
Out of the timeout, Cassius Winston hit two free throws after drawing a Brad Davison foul, his second. Brevin Pritzl then hit a 3-pointer on the other end to give the Badgers a four-point lead. Miles Bridges earned two free throws as well, hitting both, to pull within two, 28-26. Bridges then hit a transition 3-pointer on a pass from Tum Tum Nairn to take a one-point lead. Winston then hit a 3-pointer right before the buzzer to give the Spartans a four-point lead at the half.
Wisconsin continues to lead
Josh Langford shook off some rust out of the timeout, making a transition mid-range jumper after a Jaren Jackson Jr. block set it up. Cassius Winston then drew a foul and hit two bonus free throws to tie the game at 20. Nick Ward, too, drew a foul and went to the line for a one-and-one, also making both. Then, you guessed it, Brad Davison hit a 3-pointer in Matt McQuaid's face. He hit Nate Reuvers for a driving dunk and Wisconsin held a 25-22 lead heading into the under-four timeout.
Badgers put together a run
Brad Davison came out of the timeout to make a circus jumper off the backboard to give Wisconsin a 16-14 lead. Ethan Happ scored another basket in the post to extend the Badgers' run to 8-0. Nick Ward stopped the bleeding with a layup over Happ. Wisconsin's Khalil Iverson added a mid-range jumper and Ward drew a foul heading into the under-eight timeout with the Badgers leading 20-16.
Spartans, Badgers go back-and-forth
Out of the media timeout, Wisconsin's Ethan Happ got a pair of free throws and made just one. He added a bucket in the post to tie the game at 10-10. Cassius Winston then scored the next four points on a nifty layup and a mid-range jumper. Wisconsin returned the favor with four consecutive points and, yet again, the game was tied, 14-14, at the under-12 timeout.
Miles Bridges heating up early
Michigan State won the tip and Jaren Jackson Jr. scored the first bucket of the game, but Wisconsin answered right back. Both teams exchanged field goals before Bridges crossed over his defender, drove to the basket, made the layup and earned an and-one and he drained a free throw. Brad Davison answered with a long 3-pointer. And just like that, Miles Bridges matched him with a three of his own to take a 10-7 lead at the under-16 timeout.
Michigan State's march for a title sweep begins Friday.
After winning the Big Ten regular-season title, Michigan State will try to win the tournament title, too, facing No. 9 seed Wisconsin in a Big Ten quarterfinal at noon Friday.
It's the third meeting between the teams this season and, though the Spartans (28-3) have won both, the Badgers and freshman Brad Davison (30 points) gave them all they could handle last week in Madison, Wis., holding on for a 68-63 victory to clinch the Big Ten title outright.
Wisconsin advanced to the quarterfinals with a 59-54 victory over Maryland on Thursday.
Michigan State, meanwhile, rolls into the tournament on a 12-game winning streak and ranked No. 2 nationally. A victory Friday will send Michigan State into Saturday's semifinals, where they would face the winner between No. 5 seed Michigan and No. 4 seed Nebraska.
BIG TEN TOURNAMENT
No. 1 seed Michigan State vs. No. 9 seed Wisconsin
Tip-off: Noon Friday, Madison Square Garden, New York City
TV/radio: Big Ten Network/760 AM
Records: MSU is 28-3; Wisconsin in 15-17