Buckeyes among trio seeking Big Ten title

Published 11:58 pm Saturday, March 3, 2012

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan each have a shot to share the Big Ten title going into the final day of the conference’s regular season.

The fifth-ranked Spartans, who have already earned at least a piece of the championship for the third time in four years, could’ve taken the stakes out of Sunday, but they couldn’t hand No. 18 Indiana its first home loss.

The 10th-ranked Buckeyes and 13th-ranked Wolverines both pulled within a game of Michigan State by bouncing back from losing their final home games with a win on the road.

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Draymond Green hopes his Senior Day isn’t like the one his peers experienced at Ohio State and Michigan when the Spartans host the Buckeyes on Sunday afternoon in his last game at the white T-shirt filled Breslin Center.

“You just don’t want to be that guy,” the senior forward said. “We have a great opportunity to not be that guy and we just have to take advantage of it, but it’s not going to be a cake walk. They’re not coming in here and laying down and we’re not going to lay down.

“We just have to make sure we come out on top, last man standing.”

If the Buckeyes, who had their 39-game home winning streak snapped by Michigan State last month, can become the first team to win at the Breslin Center this season they will share the conference championship with the Spartans.

Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger is glad his team still has a shot to win a third straight Big Ten title.

“It’s pretty cool,” Sullinger said.

Michigan feels the same way.

If the Wolverines win at Penn State on Sunday and Ohio State beats Michigan State later in the afternoon, they will end a Big Ten regular season championship drought that dates back to 1986.

Even though Michigan needs the rival Buckeyes to beat the rival Spartans to have a chance to win the title, Wolverines coach John Beilein refused to say he would be pulling for one team over the other in East Lansing while his team travels back to Ann Arbor on Sunday.

“I don’t know if I’ll be rooting for anyone,” Beilein said. “But I’ll be watching the scoreboard with great interest.”

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said on Monday that a “little bit” of him wished Ohio State beat Wisconsin last week, so that his team would’ve had to win at Indiana to secure their share of the championship instead of it being clinched by the Badgers beating the Buckeyes.

After losing against the Hoosiers on Tuesday night, Izzo insisted he doesn’t mind that there is now a lot on the line for the Spartans on Sunday.

“It’s everything you want,” Izzo said. “When you’re a kid, you dream of making a 3-point shot to beat Duke in the backyard. As a coach, you dream about putting your team in a position where you can share something special with them and the fans.”

Michigan State will honor its seniors: Green, a Big Ten player of the year candidate, late-blooming guard Austin Thornton, first-year guard Brandon Wood, seldom-used center Anthony Ianni and former forward Delvon Roe.

Roe, from Euclid, Ohio, ended his three-year career before the season started because of knee injuries.

He will be on the bench, but not in uniform. Michigan State didn’t ask the NCAA to restore Roe’s eligibility after he lost it by becoming a professional actor.