COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Buckeyes are the 5th seed in the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament after closing out their regular season with a thrilling 69-67 win over Michigan State at Value City Arena Sunday.
Both teams were seeking some traction heading into the postseason. The Buckeyes had dropped their last two on the road to second-tier Big Ten teams.
“We’ve had a couple big wins but we haven’t bounced back from them like we should have. Hopefully we can keep this momentum. Everyone goes back to starting at 0-0 and that’s probably the most exciting part,” Aaron Craft said after scoring 12 points, including a late free throw, in his final home game as a Buckeye.
LaQuinton Ross scored 22 points for Ohio State, which opens tournament play Thursday afternoon against No. 12 seed Purdue.
Much-maligned center Amir Williams hit a free throw with 37.2 seconds left to put Ohio State (23-8, 10-8) ahead for good. Craft then added his free throw with 20.9 seconds remaining.
Keith Appling’s jumper with 2 seconds left was off the mark for the Spartans, who failed to score over the final 4:30.
Adreian Payne scored 23 points, Gary Harris had 12 and Denzel Valentine 11 for the Spartans (23-8, 12-6), who have lost seven of their last 11.
Sparty is the No. 3 seed in the tournament. After winning the outright Big Ten Championship for the first time since 1986 with a 15-3 conference record, Michigan is the tournament’s top seed, with Wisconsin at No. 2 and Nebraska a surprising 4th seed.
The 17th annual event will be contested from March 13-16 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.