The No. 15 Michigan Wolverines (27-7) advanced to the Big Ten tournament final for the second year in a row after knocking off the No. 2 Michigan Spartans (29-4) 75-64 on Saturday afternoon in New York.
Mo Wagner, Zavier Simpson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman each led with 15 points. Wagner also had eight rebounds. Charles Matthews added 12 points of his own as well as 3 assists.
The Wolverines came out of the gate with a 13-5 lead, but the Spartans answered back to tie it at 14. With 2:36 left in the half, Michigan State’s Miles Bridges hit a three point shot to give the Spartans the lead. Xavier Tillman would make it a 29-26 lead that MSU would take into halftime.
Despite being great for rebounds, Wagner struggled to put points on the board and missed his first seven field goal tries. As a team, the Wolverines missed their last six shots of the half.
In the second half, Wagner made seven of the maize and blue’s first ten points to make it 36-31 including his first field goal and three-pointer of the game.
As the teams exchanged blows, Michigan maintained a steady lead throughout the second half. With 1:34 left, Miles Bridges, the top scorer for Michigan State, fouled out after hitting Zavier Simpson in the face following a rebound.
With 39 seconds left, the Spartans tried to get a rally going down by 10, but Duncan Robinson would get a crucial steal and the Wolverines would put the game on ice.
This is the Wolverines’ first win against an AP Top-2 team since Dec. 1997, when they beat the No. 2 Duke Blue Devils.
While the Spartans head home and await their NCAA Tournament fate, the Wolverines await the winner of the next conference semifinal between Penn State and Purdue, who they’ll face on Sunday afternoon.