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No. 16 Michigan State gets a piece of B1G title with win over No. 19 Ohio State

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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Cassius Winston scored 27 points and No. 16 Michigan State beat No. 19 Ohio State 80-69 on Sunday to win a third straight Big Ten championship.

The Spartans (22-9, 14-6 Big Ten) shared the conference title with No. 9 Maryland and No. 24 Wisconsin and they will be the second-seeded team at the Big Ten Tournament behind the Badgers.

The Buckeyes (21-10, 11-9) had won four straight and six of their previous seven games.

Ohio State’s leading scorer, Kaleb Wesson, was held to eight points on 1-of-8 shooting after entering the day averaging 14-plus points per game.

RELATED: NBC SPORTS’ LATEST BRACKETOLOGY

Michigan State was in control of much of the evening and pulled away with a 16-4 run late in the game. The Spartans were ahead 38-32 at halftime.

Rocket Watts scored 19 points, Xavier Tillman had 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals while Aaron Henry added 12 points for the Spartans.

Duane Washington had 16 points, CJ Walker scored 14, E.J. Liddell had 12 and Luther Muhammad added 10 points for the Buckeyes.

TIED AT THE TOP

Michigan State had to win to move into a three-way tie for the championship. The Badgers clinched a share of the Big Ten title with a victory Saturday at Indiana and will be the top-seeded team at the Big Ten Tournament. The Terrapins beat No. 25 Michigan earlier on Sunday to also earn a share of the championship and will be the third-seeded team in Indianapolis.

BIG PICTURE

Ohio State: The Buckeyes should get a boost in the postseason with the expected return of Kyle Young, who missed his fourth straight game with a high ankle sprain. The junior forward, who has a protective boot on his right foot, averages seven-plus points and nearly six rebounds per game.

Michigan State: The Spartans are playing their best late in the season as they usually have done in Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo’s 25 seasons. They started the season ranked No. 1 for the first time in school history and seem to have some momentum going into the postseason.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The surging Spartans will likely move up in the poll on Monday with their fifth straight win and the Buckeyes will probably hold onto a spot toward the bottom of the AP Top 25.

UP NEXT

Ohio State: Goes to the conference tournament, trying to improve its seeding for the NCAA Tournament.

Michigan State: Shoots to repeat as Big Ten Tournament champion.

Tuesday’s Things to Know: Tennessee stuns No. 6 Kentucky; Rutgers, Michigan State earn notable Big Ten wins

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Super Tuesday captured much of the nation’s attention as the schedule was light on college basketball action. Plenty of notable results still came through.

Tennessee stunned No. 6 Kentucky with a comeback road win at Rupp Arena. And in the Big Ten, Rutgers might have punched its NCAA tournament ticket with a win over No. 9 Maryland. Meanwhile, No. 16 Michigan State stayed hot with its third straight win over a top-20 team at No. 20 Penn State.

1. Tennessee stuns No. 6 Kentucky with second-half comeback road win

The night’s biggest upset belonged to Tennessee.

The Volunteers used an impressive second-half comeback to beat No. 6 Kentucky, 81-73, at Rupp Arena.

Tennessee was down by as many as 17 points. Trailing by 11 at the half, it looked like the Wildcats were completely in control. Riding an eight-game winning streak entering Tuesday night, Kentucky was a team peaking at just the right time before the postseason began. Now, after another puzzling loss to an unranked team at home this season, we just have additional question marks about how good (and consistent) this Wildcats team might actually be.

John Fulkerson deserves a massive amount of credit for Tennessee’s win. Soundly outplaying Kentucky’s talented group of big men, Fulkerson finished with 27 points and and six rebounds on 10-for-15 shooting. Fulkerson was tough to guard one-on-one and his established presence inside helped Josiah Jordan-James (16 points), Yves Pons (15 points) and Jordan Bowden (11 points) all get going.

Kentucky looked disjointed at times during the second half as they completely derailed after a promising start. Tyrese Maxey had a solid night with 21 points. But Maxey didn’t have a lot of consistent help. Immanuel Quickley (14 points on 4-for-14 shooting) and Nick Richards (12 points) both had issues scoring in the half court. And Kentucky’s bench only accounted for a handful of points as nobody else stepped up.

In the grand scheme of things, this outcome probably doesn’t have many direct implications on the NCAA tournament. Tennessee still has to likely win the SEC tournament to even sniff the NCAA tournament. And Kentucky was always going to have a difficult time catching up to the current projected No. 1 seeds — barring an unforeseen collapse.

The biggest takeaway here is that Kentucky is still capable of mental lapses against mediocre teams that can cost them games.

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2. Rutgers earns its biggest win of the season over No. 9 Maryland

The Scarlet Knights might be dancing for the first time since 1991.

Rutgers earned its biggest win of the season with a decisive 78-67 win over No. 9 Maryland. A No. 11 seed in CBT’s latest Bracketology, Rutgers was stuck in last-four-byes status before Tuesday night’s win. Losing four of five entering Tuesday, Steve Pikell’s club needed to stop its recent freefall. But with another high-quality Q1 home win, the Scarlet Knights should breath a little easier entering the home stretch.

Jacob Young (17 points), Montez Mathis (15 points) and Geo Baker (11 points) led a balanced effort for Rutgers. Shooting an efficient 7-for-16 from three-point range, the Scarlet Knights limited themselves to seven turnovers on offense.

Maryland’s cold shooting also didn’t hurt. The Terps couldn’t buy a bucket from deep, going 6-for-32 from the floor. Besides for Anthony Cowan Jr. (19 points) and a late solid stretch from Jalen Smith (16 points), Maryland’s offense had a mediocre evening.

Now that Rutgers has secured this victory, its Big Ten finale against Purdue this weekend won’t be a dreaded must-win bubble-versus-bubble game. And with Purdue winning at Iowa on Tuesday night, the Boilermakers should enter that game with plenty of confidence. Obviously, the Scarlet Knights would like to win that one and keep momentum going into the Big Ten Tournament. But now that doesn’t feel like a must-win for Rutgers as much as it did before.

But the Rutgers court storm on Tuesday was well-deserved for its long-suffering fanbase. This is a season that fans of that program have waited decades for.

CBT Bracketology

3. No. 16 Michigan State rallies to get past No. 20 Penn State

Izzo in March…

Michigan State continued its late-season surge with an impressive comeback road win over Penn State. Trailing by 15 at the half, the Spartans scored as many points the first 10 minutes of the second half (31) as they had in the entire first half. With Maryland’s loss to Rutgers, Michigan State is now tied with the Terps for the Big Ten conference lead with both teams at 13-6.

Xavier Tillman Sr. put together a monster double-double of 23 points and 15 rebounds. Senior point guard Cassius Winston chipped in an efficient 14 points and seven assists. Perhaps most importantly, Michigan State’s defense showed up in the second half.

After Penn State blitzed the Spartans in the first half with 10 three-pointers, Michigan State didn’t allow a triple during the second half.

Michigan State now has four straight wins with three straight victories coming against top-20 teams. The last two of those wins came on the road.

Although Michigan State was sluggish at times during the season after being ranked No. 1 this preseason, this is currently one of the most dangerous teams in college basketball. The Spartans will get yet another ranked matchup in their regular-season finale when they host Ohio State this weekend.

No. 16 Michigan State rallies for road win at No. 20 Penn State

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Xavier Tillman Sr. scored 23 points and had 15 rebounds to lead No. 16 Michigan State over No. 20 Penn State 79-71 on Tuesday night.

Rocket Watts added 18 points, Cassius Winston had 14 and Aaron Henry scored 12 for the Spartans who erased a 46-31 halftime deficit to win their fourth straight.

Myreon Jones led Penn State with 16 points while Lamar Stevens had 15 and Mike Watkins had 12.

The Spartans (21-9, 13-6 Big Ten) trailed by as many as 19 with 4:15 left in the first half, but scored the first nine points to start the second.

CBT’s latest Bracketology

It sparked a dominant stretch of play in the paint for the Spartans who took their first lead of the game with 14:29 to play when Tillman dunked to make it 51-49.

Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions, who made 10 of 17 3-pointers in the first half, went 0-for-10 from long distance to start the second.

The Spartans continued to keep Penn State (21-9, 11-8) at bay from there and used a 14-6 run to take their biggest lead of the night, 65-55 with 9:41 left. John Harrar made back-to-back layups to pull Penn State within two with 4:56 to play, but the Nittany Lions wouldn’t get any closer.

The Nittany Lions used a pair of first-half runs to take control early.

College Basketball Scoreboard

They opened with a 10-2 advantage that featured two high-amplitude, alley-oop dunks from Watkins and a pair of 3s from Jamari Wheeler and Seth Lundy.

Michigan State cut it to 12-11, but Penn State made seven 3-pointers over the next 7:47 as part of 29-11 run that made it 41-22 with 4:15 left.

The Spartans scored the next eight points before Jones added his fourth 3-pointer of the half and Watkins jammed in his third alley-oop dunk of the half to make it 46-31 at halftime.

THE BIG PICTURE

Michigan State: The Spartans’ looked like a completely different team in the second half to hold on to their current momentum. Their movement away from the ball kept Penn State’s athletic defense guessing and helped Michigan State avoid what could’ve been an embarrassing loss.

Penn State: A startling trend has shadowed the Nittany Lions for a few weeks now. They can’t hold onto a lead no matter how big. They needed a last-minute 3-pointer from Dread to win their last home game after leading by double-digits at halftime and had all the momentum in this one until they went into the locker room.

UP NEXT

Michigan State: Hosts No. 19 Ohio State on Sunday.

Penn State: Visits Northwestern on Saturday.

Tuesday’s Things to Know: Michigan State rallies by Iowa; Wake Forest stuns Duke in 2OT

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Tuesday night in college basketball saw Michigan State rally to knock off Iowa in the Big Ten while Wake Forest held off No. 7 Duke in double overtime. Oklahoma also stopped its recent three-game slide with a huge win over Texas Tech in the Big 12.

No. 24 Michigan State takes down No. 19 Iowa

Second place in the Big Ten is a crowded field.

Michigan State separated themselves from a six-game pack on Tuesday night with a home win over Iowa.

The Spartans rallied in the second half to earn one of their better wins of the season. Senior point guard Cassius Winston (20 points, nine assists) stepped up in the second half. Junior big man Xavier Tillman Sr. (six points, six rebounds) had modest numbers. Most importantly, Tillman made life very difficult on Iowa star center Luka Garza. The Player of the Year candidate played all 40 minutes. He was limited to 20 points on 8-for-21 shooting. And freshman guard Rocket Watts (23 points) and sophomore wing Aaron Henry (17 points) stepped up in the scoring column when Winston was slow to start.

Michigan State has a very strong schedule to close out the Big Ten regular season. Road games with Maryland and Penn State still loom. A home game with Ohio State to close out the regular season won’t be easy. But we’ll get to see how the preseason No. 1 team looks down the stretch against the type of schedule they’ll face in March.

It’s only one win at home against Iowa. Michigan State also slowed down a Player of the Year candidate and rallied on a night when their senior leader was sluggish in the first half. This is the type of win the Spartans will take at this point in the season.

Wake Forest stuns No. 7 Duke in 2OT

Tuesday night’s biggest upset went to Wake Forest.

The Demon Deacons finally prevailed in double overtime over No. 7 Duke.

Wake Forest had five players with at least 16 points in the win. Olivier Sann (25 points) and Chaundee Brown (24 points) led the scoring. The Demon Deacons took advantage of 50 free throws (making 37) while shooting 51 percent from the field and 54 percent from three-point range in the win.

Duke was led by Wendell Moore Jr. (25 points) and Tre Jones (24 points). The Blue Devils dealt with foul trouble to freshman big man Vernon Carey Jr. and inconsistent play from other rotations players.

This win puts Florida State ahead of the ACC pack with only a few games to go. This is a shocking loss for the Blue Devils when it comes to conference play. But as long as Duke gets over this late-season swoon they should be fine for the NCAA tournament.

Oklahoma earns huge bubble win over No. 22 Texas Tech

The night’s most important bubble win goes to Oklahoma.

Playing in Oklahoma City, the Sooners raced out to a strong start and used it to run past Texas Tech for a Big 12 home win.

Losers of three consecutive games entering this one, Oklahoma was in a recent freefall they needed to stop. The Sooners put together one of their stronger defensive efforts this season as Kristian Doolittle led with 19 points.

The Sooners really helped their cause with a win like this over Texas Tech. The next one for Oklahoma comes at a West Virginia team desperate for a win. That one should be fascinating.

Tuesday’s Things to Know: Michigan State, Penn State win on the road

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College basketball didn’t have a ton of games on Tuesday night.

But we learned more about a crowded Big Ten race with two key road wins.

And three ranked teams struggled to put away feisty unranked teams during a night of close games.

Michigan State survives at No. 22 Illinois

College basketball’s biggest matchup came from Champaign on Tuesday night.

Michigan State claimed a crucial road win over No. 22 Illinois with a 70-69 victory. Stopping a three-game losing streak, this was one of the Spartans’ biggest wins of the season.

Jumping out to an 8-0 advantage, it looked like Michigan State would win this one with ease. The Spartans led by 17 at the half. For about the first 30 minutes, Michigan State looked like one of college basketball’s elite teams in this one.

Then Illinois made a furious rally to take the lead with under five minutes left. A back-and-forth finish ensued. Cassius Winston’s missed layup was followed by a Xavier Tillman putback dunk with just over six seconds left for the game-winning bucket.

Illinois sophomore guard Ayo Dosunmu took the ball the length of the floor on the ensuing possession and twisted his knee before losing the ball. Dosunmu (17 points) was a warrior in the second half. But he had to be carried off the floor by two Illinois staffers following the heartbreaking loss. Dosunmu’s status going forward is certainly a concern for Illinois in a brutal Big Ten race.

But the story of this one is Michigan State holding on to win.

The Spartans blew a 20-point lead and got cold in the second half after a hot start. On an off night from Winston (12 points, four turnovers), freshman Rocket Watts (21 points) came up huge in the scoring column for Michigan State. Watts created offense off the dribble by himself when it was difficult for the Spartans to generate offense.

Xavier Tillman (17 points, 11 rebounds) also came through with a double-double as he converted a few key post touches on mismatches late in the second half.

This one certainly wasn’t pretty. And Michigan State still has to figure out how to get Winston going on certain off nights. But for Watts to step up like that and the Spartans to take Illinois’ best shot is a very positive sign of a turnaround. If Michigan State wanted to stay in the Big Ten race, they needed a road win like this to keep pace with teams like Maryland and Penn State.

No. 13 Penn State pushes win streak to seven with statement win

Perhaps the night’s most impressive win belongs to Penn State.

The Nittany Lions blitzed Purdue with 10 first-half three-pointers to claim another Big Ten road win. On a seven-game winning streak, the Nittany Lions have four road wins in that span.

Tuesday night’s win was impressive because of the way Penn State did it. With Lamar Stevens battling foul problems and second-leading scorer Myreon Jones (illness) out, the role guys stepped up.

I have much more on Penn State’s notable road victory here. It’s been a long time since Penn State basketball was relevant. This is one of the most fun and surprising stories of the 2019-20 college basketball season.

Three ranked teams survive scares

Some close games scared some ranked teams across college basketball on Tuesday night.

In a slow night for the top 25, two SEC teams needed second-half comebacks over unranked teams. And the Big Ten’s leader survived a final push from a conference bottom feeder.

After jumping out to a double-digit lead, Vanderbilt couldn’t close No. 12 Kentucky at home. Tyrese Maxey scored 25 points to pace the Wildcats past the Commodores for an SEC road win. Ashton Hagans also registered a triple-double for Kentucky in the win.

Keeping pace with the Wildcats in the SEC was No. 25 LSU. The Tigers also needed a second-half rally as they held off Missouri. Skylar Mays (23 points) and Darius Days (20 points, 10 rebounds) paced the five double-figure scorers for LSU. The wins for both keep Kentucky and the Tigers tied atop the SEC with 9-2 conference marks.

Meanwhile, the Big Ten’s leader also had some trouble. Maryland needed to get a stop on its final two defensive possessions to seal a win over Nebraska. Jalen Smith registered a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds, coming up with a key defensive play late in the game to help keep the Terps on top.

The win keeps Maryland on top of the Big Ten standings. The Terps are a game up on Penn State and two up on the Spartans after Tuesday night.

Tuesday’s Things to Know: Penn State wins at Michigan State, Jalen Smith’s excellence continues for Maryland

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Tuesday night threatened to go all kinds of college basketball crazy with favorites trailing late, but things mostly fell the way you would expect.

That’s not to say, however, there weren’t some meaningful and interesting results across the country.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Penn State knocks of Michigan State in East Lansing

Whatever concerns of a collapse there may have been about Penn State when the Nittany Lions dropped three-straight a couple weeks ago, well, those are proving to be unfounded.

No. 22 Penn State continued its resurgence under Pat Chambers on Tuesday with an impressive 75-70 win over No. 16 Michigan State at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, the Nittany Lions’ fifth-straight – and by far best – victory since that three-game January skid.

Not only is Penn State clearly on track to make its first NCAA tournament in Chambers’ ninth season in University Park, but the Nittany Lions are putting together a resume for a sterling seed line.

Chambers’ group is now a game behind in the Big Ten standings with wins at Michigan State and Michigan along with home wins against Maryland, Ohio State and Indiana during league play. The offense can be a little shaky at times – they shot 41 percent from the floor against the Spartans – but the defense is legit, especially inside with Mike Watkins’ rim protection anchoring things. Maybe the most impressive thing Tuesday was the way Penn State withstood big plays and moments from Michigan State. The Spartans, specifically Cassius Winston (who had 25 points), hit them with some big punches, but the Nittany Lions never hit the canvas like some of their previous squads likely would have.

Obviously, it’s not a crippling loss for Michigan State, for all the Penn State-related reasons above, but there are signs for concern. The loss in Madison on Saturday to a mediocre Wisconsin team that had one of its most important players suspended and another looking for a new school, well, that ain’t a great look. Following up with a home loss, even to a solid team, isn’t either, at least not for a team that only intermittently this season looked like the preseason No. 1 and national title contender many of us believed they’d be.

It just seems there’s not enough going on beyond Winston for Michigan State. The senior point guard put up 25, but went 8 of 21 from the floor and 3 of 11 from 3-point range. He had nine assists, yes, but didn’t have a go-to second option. No other Spartan scored more than nine points, and none took more than eight shots.

Watching Michigan State, it’s easy to see so many of the pieces with Winston at the helm and a bunch of types of guys that have thrived on Tom Izzo teams, but it’s hard not to think about Josh Langford, the 6-foot-5, 40-percent 3-point shooter and double-digit scorer who won’t play for the Spartans due to injury. Langford running the wing alongside Winston makes Michigan State a different team.

But they’re this team, and Langford won’t be suiting up. If Michigan State hasn’t been able to consistently get enough from the supporting cast around Winston, time is running out to think they ever will. This Spartan teams is really good, and sometimes great, but their fatal flaw isn’t one that is particularly difficult to exploit.

2. Duke was mostly bad, but good enough to beat Boston College

Duke shot 37.7 percent from the field, including 26.7 percent in the first half. The Blue Devils missed their first 14 3-pointers, finally making one – their lone make – with under 8 minutes to play. Vernon Carey played most of the second half in foul trouble.

It was ugly and ineffective against a Boston College team that has lost five of its last seven and doesn’t have a win against a KenPom top-50 team this season.

Still wasn’t enough for the Blue Devils to lose.

Duke got a lift offensively from Joey Baker and enough from Tre Jones and Carey while the defense turned things up enough late to give Coach K and Duke a 63-55 road ACC win.

It was far from a good performance from Duke, but when you’re on the road at BC for a mid-week, that falls directly into the Just Don’t Lose category when you’re angling for a No. 1 seed. An icky performance isn’t exactly surprising, and if it’s in a win, it’s not at all damaging, except for the eyeballs of anyone who spent two hours watching these two teams combine to go 3-33 from 3-point range. With North Carolina this weekend and Florida State on Monday, the Blue Devils being stuck in neutral isn’t exactly surprising. Nor is it discouraging.

Duke was pretty dreadful offensively. They were 1-15 from 3-point range overall. They were 8 of 18 (44.4 percent) on 2s in the first half. Jones finished with 18 points, but it was a lot of work to get there as he went 7 of 15 from the field. Carey tallied 17 points on 5 of 13 shooting. Cassius Stanley was 2 of 8. Matthew Hurt was 1 of 6 and didn’t even play in the second half. Baker was perhaps the best offensively, at least for a stretch, scoring eight second-half points on 3 of 3 shooting.

So all in all, a pretty terrible offensive performance, but give Duke has a top-five offense for the year, it’s hard to see anything but an outlier performance. We know Duke is really good offensively. Tonight’s work just wasn’t emblematic of the big picture. It happens.

It was interesting to see, however, that Duke was able to put the clamps down defensively in crunch time. Three-straight Boston College turnovers courtesy of Duke’s full-court defense helped them push the lead from one to seven after the 5-minute mark.

3. Jalen Smith continues to be awesome as Maryland gets by Rutgers

Jalen Smith has been great all season long, but the Maryland big man has been spectacular lately. The 6-foot-10 sophomore continued the trend against Rutgers, posting 14 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks in the Terrapins’ 56-51 win over a tough Scarlet Knights squad.

Fourteen points. Fifteen rebounds. Six blocks. Not to mention being 3 of 7 form 3-point range.

What an absolutely awesome performance. Not that it’s anything new for Smith.

The Baltimore native is averaging 21 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game over his last six contests. He’s playing himself up NBA draft boards every single time he’s on the floor. Maryland, by the way, is 5-1 while Smith has been on this especially splendid tear. If the Terps stay in the Big Ten race and Smith continues to cook, we’re going to be looking at him as a first-team All-American and national player of the year contender. He’s been that good.

The Terps’ immediate schedule includes two must-wins – home games against Nebraska and Northwestern – stacked between huge matchups at Illinois and Michigan State. Then it’s a sprint to the finish against some of the Big Ten’s best teams. It should be a wild league race, and Maryland will be in the thick of it.