MI basketball: For some reason, the toughness questions persist

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MI will play third-seeded Purdue (28-5) on Sunday as the five-day tournament ends at Madison Square Garden. Stifling defense, strong rebounding, sticking together - these are the traits that have carried MI to eight straight wins and Sunday's showdown with Purdue.

Beilein didn't want any of his players picking up a technical foul or worse - and it was Michigan State's Nick Ward who earned the only tech of the day - but he didn't want them to back down from a challenge. Miles Bridges led Michigan State with 20 points. Jaren Jackson Jr. added 13 and Cassius Winston had 11.

Come March, guard play is inherently important for teams with aspirations to make deep tournament runs.

"I'm just trying to move to the open space", said McQuaid, who played in 51 minutes in the Big Ten Tournament.

That lead would grow to seven 4 minutes later, when Abdur-Rahkman and Simpson converted back-to-back layups to push MI in front 54-47 with 7:10 left.

While Michigan State desperately wanted to avenge its 82-72 regular season loss to Michigan, the Spartans shouldn't panic over Saturday's loss. Michigan is playing its best ball right now after knocking out top-seeded Michigan State in the other semi Saturday.

The Wolverines successfully survived MSU's late foul parade, shooting 20 of 27 from the free-throw line after halftime, to clinch the victory.

For Michigan State, the Spartans are hopeful to remain as a #2 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament with their eye on Detroit, as brand new Little Caesars Arena will host second and third round games.

Junior forward Moritz Wagner scored 14 of his 15 points in the second half and also grabbed eight rebounds as No. 15 Michigan defeated No. 2 Michigan State 75-64 on Saturday in the Big Ten tournament semifinals at New York's Madison Square Garden.

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Janay Morton led the Huskers with 15 points and was the only player scoring in double figures. It still wasn't easy, as they had to overcome 33 points from Shep Garner to beat the Nittany Lions. The Wolverines also won the first Big Ten tourney title back in 1998. "We came to win a championship".

Edwards made back-to-back 3s to make it 74-56 with 3:41 left and Purdue was on its way to play for a title. Edwards was 6 for 9 from 3, and Isaac Haas added 17 points and seven rebounds. Penn State is the surprise of the group, as the No. 7 seed upset Ohio State on Friday and put itself on the cusp of the field of 68. The sophomore faced an array of defenders, including the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Nojel Eastern, 5-10 P.J.

"I think they're a little tougher, personally", Spartans coach Tom Izzo said.

"This was clearly not our best night offensively", Williams said.

The Wolverines are led by sweet shooting big man Mo Wagner, a German import who leads the team with 14.5 points per game. The Boilermakers defeated Rutgers and Penn State to reach the final after getting a double bye to start the tournament as the field's No. 3 seed.

MI trailed 29-26 at the half, but used a 10-2 burst to open the second half and take a 36-31 lead it never lost.

John Beilein once made it to the Big East title game at the Garden as the coach at West Virginia.

Despite how good the Boilermakers have looked all season, and again against Penn State in the Big Ten semifinals, don't bank on any team beating the Wolverines three times in one season (Purdue won the two meetings this season - both in January - by a total of five points).