Michigan State looks to stay hot vs. Maryland

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Tom Izzo expects mayhem in the Big Ten tournament. He's hoping Michigan State's wild run during the last two weeks carries over to the postseason.

The longtime Spartans coach saw his team knock off three top-10 opponents -- Illinois, Ohio State and Michigan -- to virtually guarantee an NCAA Tournament berth, regardless of what happens this week.

Michigan State (15-11 overall, 9-11 Big 12), which enters the conference tournament in Indianapolis as the No. 9 seed, will face eighth-seeded Maryland (15-12, 9-11) on Thursday morning. The winner will advance to Friday's quarterfinals to face top-seeded Michigan.

"We're ready to go," Izzo said. "It's tournament time and one-and-done time. The 'my bads' now go out the window. One 'my bad' and you're going home. That's the way it works."

The Big Ten has more ranked teams than any other conference and that adds to the suspense in this week's tournament.

"It's going to be one of the craziest tournaments ever," Izzo said. "We've got challenges but the last couple of weeks we've answered some of the challenges. I think we're going in with some confidence."

The Spartans bounced back from a 19-point loss to the Wolverines on Thursday and defeated their arch-rival 70-64 in the rematch three days later.

Guard Rocket Watts had one of his best outings this season with 21 points and Aaron Henry continued his steady play with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists. Henry, who is averaging 15.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists, was named to the All-Big Ten's Third Team.

Maryland never trailed while defeating the Spartans 73-55 on Feb. 28 in the lone meeting between the teams during the regular season. Michigan State shot 33.3 percent from the field while Eric Ayala led the Terrapins offensively with 22 points.

"It will be a big challenge -- one I'm looking forward to. Hopefully, a little revenge," Izzo said. "Maybe more importantly, we're playing a little better than when we went out there. We were playing OK, but we were going through a tough stretch even then, and I'm not sure we handled it right. So, hopefully we'll do a better job now."

Maryland finished the season on a sour note, dropping a 60-55 decision to Northwestern and a 66-61 setback to Penn State.

The Terrapins were up by 14 points in the second half of their regular-season finale.

"The momentum changed, and we couldn't stop it," coach Mark Turgeon said.

Maryland averaged a conference-worst 64.5 points in Big Ten play.

"Trying to figure out how to score is 3 a.m. in the morning, not sleeping, trying to figure it out," Turgeon said. "It's been a year-long thing. That's why we put so much emphasis into defense."

--Field Level Media