College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 7, 2010
When Raymar Morgan is on his game, Michigan State is a very tough beat. When the Spartans get Morgan involved early, less-talented teams generally fall behind early and never catch up. Such was the case Sunday afternoon when the Spartans earned a share of the Big Ten regular season title with a breezy, 64-48 victory over in-state rival, Michigan.
The final score did not nearly capture how one-sided the game was. While Morgan was scoring 13 of his season-high 22 points in the first half, Michigan state defenders were doing a number on the Wolverines, holding them to a mere 14 points for the half and opening up an 18-point lead. Morgan, a senior forward, hit 10 of his 15 shots from the field, all inside the three-point line and most of them on drives to the hoop, and canned 2 of 3 free throws while bringing down 10 rebounds for his 5th double-double of the season.
Michigan State finished the Big Ten season at 14-4, tied with Ohio State and Purdue. The Spartans are 24-7 overall.
Notable: After Cornell became the first team to receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament on Friday, three more teams did so on Saturday. East Tennessee State won the Atlantic Sun Conference Tourney with a 72-66 win over pesky Mercer; Murray State topped Morehead St., 62-51, winning the Ohio Valley Tourney, and; Winthrop won the Big South tournament and the automatic bid for the fifth time in the last six years, topping Coastal Carolina, 64-53.
On Sunday, Northern Iowa punched their dance ticket by winning the Missouri Valley tournament, beating Wichita State, 67-52.
Other conference tourneys are already underway in the Northeast, Metro-Atlantic, Colonial, Mid-American and a handful of others. The major conference tournaments begin in earnest on Tuesday, when the Big East opens. On Wednesday, the PAC-10 and Big 12 tournaments begin, followed on Thursday with opening tips in the Big Ten, SEC and ACC. The week-long smorgasbord of conference tourneys culminates with the Big Ten final at 3:30 pm, the last game before the field of 65 is announced late Sunday afternoon.