Tag Archives: Wisconsin Badgers

The Boat Report: Survive and Advance Edition

I know it might seem a little early in the season to be using that phrase, but anyone who is following the Big Ten this year knows that it’s all about survival.  Though we’ve started to see some separation in the pack (Michigan first, then a battle between Indiana/MSU/OSU, and then the others), most games have turned out to be the battles we all were expecting.

When we last spoke, Michigan State was about to embark on what would probably end up being their toughest stretch of the season.  With a home game against Ohio State and back to back road trips against Wisconsin and Indiana respectively, it seemed like MSU was going to be challenged to show what sort of team they really are.  And while the season is far from over, I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve seen.

After defeating Ohio State by 3 in East Lansing, Michigan State went on the road and stole a win from the clutches of the dreaded Badgers of Wisconsin. And then it was time to head to Bloomington. I discussed it at length with Sarah and had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that MSU was going to get blown out. While the Spartans did not end up with what would have been the biggest road win of their year, I thought they came out looking great.  The greatest thing about this team is the drive and the hustle. It would have been very easy to let the atmosphere and the frenetic pace of the Hoosiers (not to mention the incessant chants of “Gary sucks!” from the Indiana faithful) overwhelm us, but even when it seemed like Indiana would blow it open, the Spartans hung tough. Sure, the fouls were MADDENING but you’re never going to win that type of game with turnovers, missed lay ups and going scoreless the final 3:30 of the game. Regardless, MSU looked great and has nowhere to go but up. I cannot wait until the Hoosiers come to East Lansing.

The best part about this team? We’ve yet to see everything fire at once. I’m hoping that day comes soon.

On to the Boat!

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Filed under Basketball, Big Ten, College Basketball, MSU, Posted by Sara, The Boat

Big Ten Tournament: A look back

Before we get cracking on bracket talk, we thought we’d take a look back on Michigan State’s excellent Big Ten Tournament run, culminating with Sunday’s instant classic against Ohio State, MSU’s tournament championship, and subsequent #1 seed.

The Spartans first matchup was against the Iowa Hawkeyes, a team they had demolished at the Breslin Center during the regular season. What was most of note in this game was the play of Adreian Payne, who had 16 points, 7 rebounds, one block and played 20 minutes. It’s clear that Tom Izzo challenged some of the team’s role players to step up in Branden Dawson’s absence, and we saw the first glimpses of this in this game. The game got away from the Hawkeyes fairly quickly, and MSU was able to rest many of its main guys, including Draymond Green, for significant stretches. All in all, an excellent start to the tournament (although I was disappointed that MSU again failed to notch 100 pts against the Hawkeyes after coming so close the first time).

The Spartans second game in the Tournament gave them the chance to demolish the Wisconsin Badgers for a third time this season. The Badgers have been playing well coming into the post-season, and we knew Bo Ryan would have them ready to roll. MSU got down early, playing incredibly sloppy for the first part of the game, and getting down by 11 points. THEN #thornsanity struck, with Austin Thornton draining three triples in a row to bring MSU within 2. From that point on, it was all MSU, as the Spartans dismantled the Badgers handily for the third time in a season. Derrick Nix also played a huge role in this game…at one point, he had scored all of Michigan State’s points (7). He finished with 9 points, 5 rebounds and a steal and played 21 minutes. This was an incredibly balanced scoring effort from MSU, with Thornton notching 12 points, 13 from Keith Appling and 14 from Draymond Green.

MSU’s win over Wisconsin and Ohio State’s dismantling of the Wolverines set up a rematch between the two top teams in the Big Ten for all the marbles, just one week after Ohio State had crushed MSU’s hope of taking home sole possession of the regular season Big Ten Title. It was clear from the beginning of the game that both teams were viewing this as a game deciding the “real” Big Ten champ…with the added fact that Duke, UNC and Kansas had all lost in their conference tournaments, it was also possible the winner would get a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. From the beginning, the game was fast-paced, defense heavy and chippy. In the first half, Michigan State’s bigs did a great job on Jared Sullinger, restricting his scoring and landing him on the bench in foul trouble. MSU also did a good job of guarding William Buford without Branden Dawson. MSU took a 2 point lead into the locker room, but when OSU came out in the second half, they went on a huge run, hitting 3-pointer after 3-pointer. And then, there was Brandon Wood. Capping off a HUGE Big Ten Tournament appearance, Wood found his fifth gear, playing incredible defense, getting after the ball in transition and draining key threes to lead MSU on a 10-0 from which it never looked back. This game was incredibly close, but after that run by Wood, the Spartans were always just the one or two key steps ahead of the Buckeyes.

What does winning the Big Ten tournament mean for this team? Well, for a squad that dropped its final two games of the season, it first and foremost means a huge boost in their confidence. They can now enter the NCAA tournament with momentum. I also think winning against OSU after the heartbreaker a week before showed them (and us) that this is a team that can prepare for, and beat, anyone. There’s a lot of talk about athleticism and speed in Michigan State’s region of the NCAA bracket, but it’s not as though they’ve been playing small, slow teams all year. They went 2-1 with Ohio State this year (winning one in Columbus and one on a neutral floor), 3-0 against Wisconsin, and split home-and-homes with Michigan and Indiana. This is a team that beat Florida State and gave Duke and UNC good, close games early in the season. Now, playing their best ball, with a coach who’s dedicated to win, and wounded teammate traveling with them, I would give them a shot against anyone in the country. The contributions of the “role players” in the Big Ten Tournament- the performances turned in by Nix, Payne, Thornton and Wood- and to a lesser degree, Brandan Kearney, show that MSU is not a team where if you shut down one guy, they collapse. Draymond Green may have been the Big Ten Tournament’s MVP, but really this team functions as a unit, with Green and Izzo at its head. So do not despair, of the pundits picking Mizzou in the Final Four, or saying the Spartans will lose to the athletic Memphis Tigers. Keep Calm and Sparty on!

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Filed under 2012 NCAA Tournament, Basketball, Big Ten, Big Ten Tournament, College Basketball, MSU, NCAA, Posted by Sarah, Uncategorized

A Look Back: Dominance of the Badgers

While this is way later than I had intended, Sarah and I wanted to take a minute to review the awesome game on Thursday. Michigan State dominated the Wisconsin Badgers and won the game 69-55. There were the standard slow moments, with the offense stalling and outside shooting colder than the arctic, but MSU was relentless and determined to complete their regular season sweep of the Badgers. This game also gave the Spartans their 6th win over a ranked team this year, the most in Division 1 basketball.

Get it, Draymond!

Draymond Green scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds. Keith Appling finished with a surprising 20 points as well! I honestly didn’t know that until I saw the box score after the game. It’s nice to see him scoring again, especially with the injury to Travis Trice that looks like it will keep him out for awhile longer. The fact that MSU had ALL the and ones probably helped his stats line as well. How many did they end with? 32?

MSU had a ridiculous 20 point lead with around nine minutes to play, and though Wisconsin cut it to 9 with 3:16 left, MSU refused to back down. It was another fantastic effort to watch. I often think to games that the Spartans played last year…when faced with adversity, that team would crumble. It seems like this year adversity make this team work that much harder. And the thing is? They have no where to go but up. If you don’t understand Tom Izzo basketball, look no further than this team, this year. They are really coming into their own, playing stingy/brutal defense, and picking each other up when things get tough. I honestly cannot wait to see how this year continues to unfold.

Michigan State now sits alone at the top of the Big Ten since Michigan took down Ohio State yesterday. It’s a half game lead and the road does not get any easier from here out, but it’s nice to be there. Who would have thought?

For some great reads on the game, here’s a quick couple of links:

The Only Colors: Onward and Upward

A Beautiful Day for Football is hilarious with photoshop

On the Banks of the Red Cedar takes a look at the remaining Big Ten schedule for MSU

Sports Illustrated has MSU at four in the power rankings (NOTHING TO SEE HERE. MOVE ALONG)

Drew Sharp says MSU is peaking at the right time

What’s next: Michigan State takes on a depleted Purdue squad at Purdue today at 1 PM on CBS. Purdue dismissed Kelsey Barlow and suspended DJ Byrd yesterday for an incident at a bar in West Lafayette. Also, look for the Paint Crew (Purdue’s student section) to be quite hostile to Branden Dawson after the first game between the two teams this year. It should be a good one, but I’m thinking MSU has the upper hand.

We’ll be back next week with the Boat Report. Go Green!

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Filed under Basketball, College Basketball, MSU, Posted by Sara

Beat the Badgers!

So, just in case you forgot, Michigan State takes on Wisconsin tonight at the Breslin Center.  If your spirit is lacking, I have found a video that will get your blood pumping!

Today’s video feature comes from 2007 when the lackluster Spartans were taking on the AP #1 ranked Badgers in East Lansing. Drew Neitzel was determined to get that signature win that would send the Spartans to the NCAA tournament and did so with this 28 point effort. This was also a game where I got to experience my first court storming effort. One for the bucket list.

Izzone, I hope you come with this intensity tonight.

Bonus: You can see me (Sara G) and my lovely cousin Nicole trying to will this team to victory around the 5:30 mark. I’m mostly obstructed by the “overrated” sign (good thing because I was growing out a terrible haircut incident, but that’s a topic for another day/place), but Nicole is prominently displayed. 🙂 A little college throwback for you.

GO GREEN! Beat the Badgers.

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Filed under Basketball, College Basketball, MSU, Posted by Sara, Video

Boat Report: Ball So Hard Edition

::ahem:: SUCK IT WISCONSIN

Just wanted to get that out of the way.

Last night, the MSU basketball team won a tough game on the road against the Wisconsin Badgers, breaking a decade-long losing streak in the Kohl Center. It was a game of tough defense, ugly shots, slow pace and nail biting. Standard MSU/Wisconsin. The team performed more than admirably- hanging together in the clutch, keeping turnovers to a minimum and shooting well (for the most part). The officiating was ridiculously awful (a technical on someone sitting behind the bench? OK.) and the clock debacle might deserve a post all it’s own, but what’s most important is this team continues to be exciting, tough and GOOD. Have I mentioned good?

Today Sara G. and I discovered that last year’s basketball team only won 17 games. 17!!!!! They got their 14th win on February 10. This year’s team is 14-2 on January 4, and knocking at the nation’s Top 10. Last year we were also SO disgusted with the team we blew up the boat on December 23, then didn’t do another report for a month (in a post fittingly titled “The Five Stages of Grief.” Apparently we do that a lot?) Then Korie Lucious was kicked off the team on January 26. We did not update the boat’s status again until the end of the season. BUT NOT THIS YEAR. Boat status: ballin’ 

Ahoy! (Click the image for a larger version)

Boat Captain: Keith Appling

Keith continues to develop into the kind of electric player that makes announcers wet their pants and fans squeal with delight. He took on pre-season All-American point guard Jordan Taylor at both ends of the court last night and was in a word, sick. His electric play has really ignited the offense, he looks more comfortable running the point and his defense is really lock down. Bonus: I love his stanky mad face in tight games. He gets serious attitude when things get sticky. He’s also a sophomore. Congrats Keith, you’re making a great case for an All Big 10 season.

First Mate: Draymond Green

Green really functions as almost a co-captain here, he’s been that impressive. Everyone knows he’s the heart and soul of the team, and he pulled down another double-doubel against Wisconsin, with blocks, steals and all-around hustle to round it out. BUT please make your free throws when the game is on the line Day Day. Thanks.

Second Mate: DERRICK FREAKING NIX

Ok. We at Sports Squared have been really hard on Nix. He had an abysmal season last year, and a tough few games at the beginning of the season. But he’s settling in, and last night he had two key back-to-back buckets. He has one move under the basket, but it’s a good one, and he’s also playing great defense. Nix’s biggest asset is his size, and last night it seemed like Wisconsin just didn’t have an answer for him. He also logged 25 minutes on the court, showing his stamina has really increased over the past year. Well done, Derrick.

Crow’s Nest: Adrieian Payne and Brendan Dawson

Payne and Dawson are really coming along, playing good D, snagging rebounds (and in Payne’s case steals), contributing offensively and just generally bangin’ under the hoop. Young dudes, keep it up.

Also on the boat, but I was too lazy to draw them: Brandon Wood and Travis Trice

Every game it become more apparent that Brandon Wood’s contribution as a leader on the court is invaluable to this team. He didn’t have an explosive night offensively, but he does a great job running plays, making good passes and getting the ball to the hot hand. We love you Brandon, please don’t ever leave. Trice has seen his minutes reduced lately, but last night it just may have been that Wisconsin’s size was too much. (Sidenote: This game was the first time I thought MSU looked undersized all season. Given the competition, that’s saying something)

Thrown Overboard: Austin Thornton

Austin played 30 minutes in this game and has been improving through Big 10 play. However, when he gets frustrated he commits really stupid and unnecessary fouls. In a close game like the one against Wisconsin, that can be a killer. So Thornton remains in limbo. Will he crash into the sea? Will he be rescued? Stay tuned.

Island of Misfit Toys: Brandan Kearny, Alex Gauna and Russel Byrd

Where are you guys? Pre-season I was really excited about at least two of these guys (Byrd and Kearny) but they haven’t really been seeing much of the floor. Understandable, as it seems Izzo has a rotation that works for him, but if one of them could develop into a strong scorer off the bench, it would only help our chances in March. Special shout-out to Alex Gauna, who only logged one minute of play last night, but hit a nice 18-ft jumper cold off the bench.

And that’s the Boat Report! MSU basketball is on hiatus until January 10, so enjoy the NFL playoffs until then.

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Filed under Basketball, Big Ten, College Basketball, MSU, NCAA, Posted by Sarah, The Boat

P4RB: Who wins? We win!

Hype Day 5. Here we have a great roll of 2010 highlights, including Captain Kirk pumping up the team before kickoff. This video also features one of our favorite parts of the past two years DENARD SMAAAAAAAAAAAAASH.

Real talk though, I recently relocated from Michigan to Minnesota, and this is undoubtedly Badger Country (The Wisconsin border is about 1.5 hours away, and roughly 25 to 50 percent of people in the area are Madison grads.) Nothing would bring me more pleasure than to put up an MSU Rose Bowl pennant in my office next week. Today, I’m just decked out this season’s lucky St. Louis Final Four shirt. Stay tuned for a real analysis of this matchup later today, but until then, go Green!

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Filed under Big Ten, Big Ten Title Game, College Football, Football, MSU, NCAA, P4RB, Posted by Sarah, Rose Bowl?, Video

Flashback: MSU, 49-Wisconsin 14

For your daily Big Ten Championship game pump up video, we give you Your Michigan State Spartans spoiling the 2004 Badgers run at the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin came into East Lansing ranked #5, with bushels of roses in tow. MSU running back Jehuu Caulcrick said after MSU’s 49-14 drubbing of Wisky, the MSU players took the roses to some of EL’s finest drinking establishments.

Fun fact: Both Sara G. and I were in attendance for this game, but neither of us have very clear memories of it. Freshman year football season is one big blur. We at Sports Squared would like to take this time to point out some fine facts about the five Bielma/Dantonio matchups.

  • In the five times MSU/Wisconsin have met with these two as head coach, MSU leads the series 3-2
  • The margins of victory in these games: 3,1, 8,10, 6.
  • Edge to the home team in every match up.

Wrapping up, congrats to Kirk Cousins for making the finalists list for the Manning Award. Wisconsin’s Russel Wilson also a finalist.

We’d also like to acknowledge that Mark Dantonio was robbed of his second consecutive Big 10 coach of the year award today. That award went to Brady Hoke.

P4RB and as always, Go Green!

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Filed under Big Ten, Big Ten Title Game, College Football, Football, MSU, P4RB, Posted by Sarah, Rose Bowl?