Game 1 delivered everything an audience could want – back-and-forth scoring, a dominant performance and, most importantly, a Michigan State Spartans victory. When the Spartans and Michigan Wolverines meet again, it will be under the prime-time lights.
Following Sunday’s 77-70 MSU victory in Ann Arbor, the tip-time was announced for the rematch in two weeks. The Spartans and Wolverines will get started at 8 PM EST in East Lansing on March 9. Not only will it be the season finale for both teams, it will likely be the game that decides the Big Ten regular season championship and the tournament seeding.
Before the MSU-Michigan game, Purdue will finish its season on the road against Northwestern, starting at 2:30.
If the top two teams hold form, Michigan State and Purdue would share the Big Ten regular season title and the Spartans would own the tie-breaker for the top seed do to a better win-percentage against the next best team in the conference, Michigan. However, if Michigan were to win the rematch and Purdue wins-out, the Boilermakers would win the regular season title outright and hold the top seed.
The Spartans likely have the easiest remaining schedule, facing Indiana on the road before home games against Nebraska and Michigan. Despite losing to the Hoosiers earlier in the season, Indiana still sits among the bottom-feeders in the conference along with Nebraska. MSU also hopes to have Nick Ward back on the floor before the Michigan rematch.
In addition to a slightly more difficult schedule, the Boilermakers also have to play an additional game. Purdue will finish the season at home against Illinois and Ohio State before hitting the road to play Minnesota and Northwestern. Outside of Northwestern, Purdue’s opponents all have something to play for. Minnesota and Ohio State look to secure a place in the NCAA Tournament, while a strong finish to the season could set up Illinois to make a deep run in the Big Ten tournament. Still, they are all games that Purdue should win.
Michigan undoubtedly has the most difficult schedule remaining. Before playing Michigan State on the road, the Wolverines play Nebraska at home and No. 17 Maryland on the road. However, if Michigan wins out and Purdue stumbles, U of M still has a chance to earn a share of the conference title. In this scenario, Michigan would earn the tiebreaker for the top-seed due to a better win percentage among head-to-head games between the tied teams. Michigan would have won two of its three games against the other two (a fitting .666 win percentage) as opposed to MSU’s .500 record and Purdue winning one-of-three.
While further craziness is still possible with Maryland and Wisconsin within shouting distance of first place, the conference title and tournament seeding will almost certainly be decided in East Lansing.