College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 4, 2012
There were two really big games on Sunday that mattered in terms of upcoming seeds n the NCAA tournament. The first was a barn-burner of a Missouri Valley tournament final and the other resulted in a three-way tie for the Big Ten regular season championship.
In St. Louis, #25 Creighton was pushed to overtime by a stubborn Illinois State squad intent on winning their way into the NCAAs. In the end, however, it was the Bluejays chasing off the Redbirds, 83-79 in OT behind likely MVC player of the year, Doug McDermott who paced all scorers with 33 points on 12 of 18 shooting, including three 3-pointers and a perfect 6-for-6 from the line. Creighton's leading scorer also grabbed six rebounds in his 41 minutes of floor time.
Illinois State had knocked off Wichita State on Saturday to get to the final, but fell just short. Creighton takes the automatic bid, while #15 Wichita State will have to be patient for a week to find out where they are seeded.
With a win at home against #10 Ohio State in their final regular season game, the 5th-ranked Michigan State Spartans could have claimed the Big Ten title outright, and the Spartans built a 15-point lead midway through the first half as the Buckeyes struggled to find their marks.
Despite the struggles of their star, Jared Sullinger, who was just 5-for-17 from the field and spent much of the last eight minutes on the bench with four fouls but still finished with a double-double (14 points and 10 rebounds, the Buckeyes never quit and eventually got the go-ahead bucket on a long jumper by William Buford with one second remaining in regulation.
Buford finished with one of his best games of the season, fitting for the only senior on the Ohio State squad, scoring a game-high 25 points on 8 of 14 shooting with three boards, three steals and an assist.
The Spartans had one last fling at the basket as time expired, but the ball never went near the hoop, as Ohio State took the 72-70 decision.
The result tied the Buckeyes with Michigan State and Michigan - who had topped Penn State earlier in the day - for the conference regular season lead, all three teams finishing with identical 13-5 records.
Michigan State will be the top seed in the Big Ten tournament which opens Thursday, with Ohio State #2 and Michigan the #3 seed.