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Spartans grab title, claim No. 1 seed

INDIANAPOLIS — Draymond Green now has the winning chapter in Michigan State history he has longed for.

Green had 12 points and nine rebounds to help the eighth-ranked Spartans beat No. 7 Ohio State 68-64 on Sunday in the Big Ten tournament championship game. The victory catapulted Michigan State (27-7) to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament in the West region.

Green and the Spartans tied for the league's best mark in the regular season (with Michigan and Ohio State at 13-5). The Big Ten player of the year and the tournament's most outstanding player felt he needed to win something for coach Tom Izzo to include him with Michigan State greats.

"Coach always talked to us about leaving a footprint in the sand. He always said Mateen Cleaves, he left a footprint, Magic Johnson — they left a footprint. And me and Austin (Thornton) always say, when we leave here, we want him to talk about the Green-Thornton era. We've been talking about our footprint."

Brandon Wood scored a season-high 21. Wood transferred to Michigan State after graduating from Valparaiso last year with eligibility remaining. He received a waiver to play immediately because he entered graduate school.

"He was on it today, making shots, and that's what he's known for," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "Happy for him that he has an opportunity to play in this game."

Derrick Nix added 10 points for the Spartans, who claimed their first tournament title since 2000 in a game that featured 16 lead changes.

Jared Sullinger scored 18 for Ohio State, and Thomas and William Buford added 11 each. The Buckeyes (27-7) were denied a third straight league title and settled for a No. 2 seed in the East region in the NCAA Tournament.

Other finals

ST. BONAVENTURE PUNCHES TICKET: A dozen years after its last NCAA bid and nine seasons after an embarrassing scandal, fourth seed St. Bonaventure (20-11) beat Xavier 67-56 in the Atlantic 10 title game in Atlantic City, N.J.

Conference player of the year Andrew Nicholson had 26 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocked shots for the Bonnies. Third seed Xavier (21-12) also reached the NCAAs as an at-large.

In 2003 St. Bonaventure used an illegal player, then let its players boycott the final two regular season games after the A-10 suspended the player.

BIG WEST: Casper Ware had 33 points and freshman James Ennis got six of his 15 points in the final 5:08 as Long Beach State (25-8) defeated UC Santa Barbara 77-64 late Friday in Anaheim, Calif., to earn its first title since 2007.

WAC: Wendell McKines has 27 points and 14 rebounds to lead New Mexico State past Louisiana Tech 82-57 late Friday in Las Vegas in the final. The Aggies (26-9) will make their 19th NCAA Tournament appearance.

Division II tournament

ECKERD ELIMINATED: Eckerd lost to Christian Brothers (Tenn.) 60-57 in the South Region semifinals in Huntsville, Ala. The Tritons (21-9) led 55-53 before Christian Brothers closed the game on a 7-2 run. Senior forward Lance Kearse led the Tritons with 23 points.

SAINT LEO OUSTED: Florida Tech defeated Saint Leo 61-56 late Saturday in Huntsville. Trent Thomas had 28 points for the Lions (18-12).

Spartans grab title, claim No. 1 seed 03/11/12 [Last modified: Sunday, March 11, 2012 8:56pm]
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