Published: Sat, March 18, 2017
Sport | By Desiree Waters

Lucia and Sheehy Preview Big Ten Tourney

Lucia and Sheehy Preview Big Ten Tourney

A battle between star point guards went to Michigan's Derrick Walton his seventh-seeded Wolverines overcame the No. 10 Oklahoma State Cowboys, 92-91, in Friday's opener in the Midwest Region. "He makes things easier for all of us because he attracts so much attention to himself, which frees up everyone else". If you're like me, you've been watching tourney action non-stop because, well, March Madness is the best time of the year.

Walton's slow start (1 of 6 in the first half) gave no hint of what was to come.

No. 3 Baylor 91, No. 14 News Mexico State 73: After trailing by two at halftime, Baylor overpowered the Aggies in the second half. I think the paint is something they really love to attack, whether it be by the dribble or on the inside with their presence with both their bigs. After getting a taste of the NCAA Tournament a year ago, the Wolverines hope their two hybrid big men are ready to step into the spotlight and perform today.

Oklahoma State is coached by Brad Underwood, who is in his first season with the Cowboys and is otherwise known as the guy who used to coach Thomas Walkup at Stephen F. Austin. Andrew Sturtz, whose 21 goals leads the team, took a hard check from Michigan's Alex Kile behind the net and staggered to the bench and then the locker room. Only UNC Wilmington has allowed a higher OPP FG% than Michigan's 46.3 or OKST's 47.

They aren't finished yet after making 16 3-pointers - including 11 of 15 in the second half - to outpace the 10th-seeded Cowboys (20-13). It was close the rest of the way.

MI head coach John Beilein isn't usually in a laughing mood. "Once we settled in, we were fine". I think overall, there were just questions too about the tournament. That left the door open for Oklahoma State, which twice cut the lead to two points with under 20 seconds to play.

This new T-Rex will make Monopoly nerds forget about the thimble
The top hat emerged from the scrum unscathed, as did the battleship and racecar, all three of which have been staples since 1937. The fake holiday actually falls on Sunday, March 19, but that's not a good day for the announcement people, so here we are.

But most of all, and most effusively, Gottlieb pointed to Jawun Evans, the Cowboys' All-Big 12 sophomore guard.

Badger fans will have to take solace in the amount of Big Ten teams in the tournament and try to root for them to advance deep into both tournaments.

Check the scoreboard above for the final score and click on the stats link for game stats. You can argue whose individual line was more impressive, but not without considering this: Walton was seven of 13 from the field, including six of nine from three, while Evans was 10 of 26. Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood must have been apoplectic as he watched MI continue to launch successful long jump shots.

Both teams rely heavily on senior leaders - Forte and forward Leyton Hammonds for the Cowboys and Irvin, Walton, and Duncan Robinson for MI. The start time is slated for 12:15 p.m. ET and is a CBS Sports broadcast. Even if the Spartans then pull off an even larger upset, the remainder of the road to the Final Four could include teams such as #5 Iowa State, #4 Purdue, #6 Creighton, #3 OR, #7 MI, and #2 Louisville. Meanwhile, the Cowboys rank 231st nationally in three point defense.

Observers rightfully went into Friday's encounter expecting a shootout given MI averaged 75 points per game and Oklahoma State 86.

Michigan State will make its 20th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament under Coach Tom Izzo, celebrating the nation's third-longest active streak. Wolverine players Zak Irvin and Sean Lonegran (Fishers) and Andrew Dakich (Zionsville) are from Indiana.

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