Michigan State, Ohio State after true title

March, 11, 2012
3/11/12
10:00
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INDIANAPOLIS -- This is exactly how it should end.

The best teams in the Big Ten battling to end an argument about league supremacy.

Sunday’s Big Ten tournament championship game between Michigan State and Ohio State could impact the NCAA tournament field in dramatic ways. The winner might earn a No. 1 seed.

But that wasn’t the only talk after the semifinals Saturday.

Jared Sullinger said that the winner will have a claim to the “outright” Big Ten title, which was split three ways between Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State during the regular season.

Both squads proved that they’re the crème de la crème in the conference with dominant runs to the title game. The Buckeyes toyed with Purdue and Michigan. The Spartans whipped Iowa and crushed Wisconsin for the third time this season.

Both squads looked like Final Four-caliber teams in Indianapolis.

Finally, the Buckeyes clicked and used their full horsepower to dominate. This team had a shaky February that included a 2-3 stretch. But they’ve been rolling since the final week of the regular season. Sullinger is in Beast Mode. Deshaun Thomas is surging. Aaron Craft is playing great defense.

They’re peaking at the right time.

The Spartans’ performance against Wisconsin illustrated their potential. With Draymond Green struggling, other players stepped up and pulled the Spartans out of a 20-9 hole on their way to the victory. The Spartans have displayed the same toughness that sent the program to consecutive Final Fours in 2009 and 2010.

The conference tournament title game features the two best players in the league. Green versus Sullinger alone is a must-see matchup. Green won Big Ten Player of the Year. But Sullinger’s numbers were comparable.

This is the moment where great players are expected to show up. Both know it. Let’s see how they respond.

But there’s more. It’s Tom Izzo, who hasn’t been to the conference tournament title game since 2000, against Thad Matta, who will have a shot at his third consecutive Big Ten tourney title.

They each own a victory on the other’s home floor. But Ohio State’s victory at Michigan State during the final game of the regular season created the three-way tie for first and a string of questions about the Big Ten’s hierarchy.

And now we can finally figure it all out.

The Big 12, the ACC and Big East tournaments provided plenty of drama. But we missed premier matchups in the title bout due to early losses by Syracuse, Kansas and Duke.

That’s not the situation in the Big Ten.

We’re about to find out who’s king with Michigan State and Ohio State battling Sunday.

Both of these squads know that Sunday’s meeting will validate their Big Ten title status.

Sure, there was a tie a few weeks ago.

That, however, will be broken at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

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