staff, March 15, 2014

Michigan State rode some hot jump-shooting to an eight-point win over Wisconsin in Saturday's second semifinal. Right out of the gate, the Spartans were deadly accurate with their perimeter shooting, and there was little the Badgers could do to slow them. Michigan State poured in 43 points in a 27 possession first half, and, when combined with some stout interior defense spearheaded by Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson, it gave the Spartans a 17-point halftime advantage.

To Wisconsin's credit, the team came out with better energy and execution in the second half, but Michigan State just kept hitting shots anyway. All told, the Spartans shot 47 percent on jumpers (twos and threes combined), which is a much more impressive number than it may sound. Generally speaking, 40 percent is an excellent conversion rate on jumpers, so to come close to 50 percent is red-hot indeed.

FG% at Rim FG% 2pt Jumpers FG% 3pt
Michigan State 86% 43% 54%
Wisconsin 65% 27% 39%

The Badgers won basically every other facet of the game, but it's tough to beat a team that shoots like that. I don't see reason for Wisconsin fans to worry about this one – it was just one of those days.

For Michigan State, the biggest positive (other than all the made shots, of course) was a svelte turnover rate. The Spartans had posted a turnover rate higher than 20 percent in four straight games to close the regular season, to the point where it became a lurking concern. Now, in two Big Ten tournament games, Michigan State has a combined turnover rate of just under 15 percent. If the Spartans can keep up that kind of ball control, this team will be tough to beat in the NCAA tournament.

So, after a whirlwind three days, the final is set. Michigan vs. Michigan State, with a potential one-seed on the line for the Wolverines and with revenge on the Spartans' minds. It should be a fun, high-scoring Sunday afternoon prelude to the Selection Show.