CHICAGO — Hope everyone is ready for Round 3.
No. 10 Michigan will get another shot at Michigan State after a 76-49 win over Minnesota in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament on Saturday.
The Wolverines were efficient on both ends of the court, playing well for a second consecutive game after stomping Iowa in the quarterfinals on Friday night.
U-M used an 18-2 run in the first half to open a double-digit lead and controlled the rest of the game. The Wolverines averaged 1.31 points per possession in the first half and shot 57 percent from the field with 10 assists to two turnovers.
The defense, meanwhile, held Minnesota to two points over a 7:27 stretch in the first half. Michigan took a 19-point lead into halftime — and extended it past 30 in the second half.
Isaiah Livers led U-M with 21 points on 8-for-10 shooting, while Zavier Simpson added 15. Michigan went into this week looking to rediscover some of its mojo — especially on offense.
The Wolverines have done just that in their first two games in Chicago.
U-M got another balanced performance from the offense, which shot over 50 percent from the field and averaged well over a point per possession on the game.
The Wolverines had a small drought in the first half that lasted 2:33, but promptly ripped off a 27-8 run before halftime.
The Wolverines shot 38.5 percent from the 3-point line.
The true test comes against MSU, which has beaten Michigan twice this season. The Spartans shut down the Wolverines’ ball-screen offense in the first two games; Michigan will need to take advantage of size mismatches off defensive switches and avoid bad one-on-one habits that plagued them in the first two games.
Michigan’s point guard has had an extremely solid Big Ten tournament.
Simpson scored 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting with 11 assists against Iowa on Friday night while holding Jordan Bohannon to zero points.
Against Minnesota, he scored 15 points with nine assists and didn’t have any turnovers.
Simpson has been in complete control of the offense all week. He’s ignited Michigan’s attack and has been a consistent source of offense, whether that’s scoring it himself or providing teammates with open looks.
One stat that jumps out — 5-of-6 shooting from outside in two games. That might come in handy Sunday; Michigan State left Simpson open from the 3-point line in the first two games, and he shot 2 of 10.
Simpson didn’t play well in his last game against Cassius Winston and MSU. There’s no doubt that he’s looking forward to Sunday’s matchup.
The stakes, it would appear, aren’t as high as they were last week, when a share of the Big Ten regular season title was on the line at the Breslin Center. Regardless of who wins and loses Sunday, both teams will move onto the NCAA Tournament.
Still, Michigan can become the first team to win three consecutive Big Ten tournaments — and it can build on its momentum by beating a team it really struggled against this season.
NO. 6 MICHIGAN STATE 67, NO. 19 WISCONSIN 55
CHICAGO — Cassius Winston scored 21 points and Kenny Goins keyed Michigan State's fast start, helping the Spartans beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten semifinals.
Seeking their sixth Big Ten tourney title, the Spartans (27-6) will face No. 10 Michigan in the final.
Winston, the Big Ten Player of the Year, went 9 for 17 from the field and had six assists.
Goins, Aaron Henry and Xavier Tillman led a dominant rebounding effort to help Michigan State beat Wisconsin (23-10) for the seventh straight time. Goins had 13 points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots, and Henry had a career-high 11 rebounds. Ethan Happ had 20 points, six rebounds and four blocks for Wisconsin.