Neitzel, Michigan State stun No. 2 Wisconsin

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Wisconsin's first taste of a top

ranking turned sour Tuesday.

Even so, the Badgers (No. 2 ESPN/USA Today, No. 1 AP) made no excuses after falling 64-55 at

Michigan State in their first game in school history as the

top-ranked team in The Associated Press poll.

Mike and Mike in the Morning

Tom Izzo
Izzo

Michigan St. coach Tom Izzo shares his thoughts about his team's upset victory over No. 2 Wisconsin on Tuesday night. Listen Insider

"I don't think that had anything to do with it," Wisconsin

coach Bo Ryan said of the pressure of playing with the top ranking

in the nation. "Michigan State played better."

Especially Drew Neitzel. The junior guard scored 28 points and

hit several key shots in the second half to give Michigan State its

first win over a top-ranked team since the Spartans defeated

Indiana State in the 1979 national championship game.

Wisconsin (26-3, 12-2 Big Ten) now trails Ohio State (No. 1 ESPN/USA Today, No. 2 AP) by a

half-game in the Big Ten standings. The Buckeyes play Penn State on

Wednesday, then host the Badgers in a No.1-No.2 showdown Sunday.

The winner will be in the driver's seat for the Big Ten title and a

top seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The win also boosts the postseason hopes of the Spartans (20-8,

7-6 Big Ten), who are trying to make the trip to the NCAA

Tournament for the 10th straight season. It's the longest streak in

the Big Ten and fifth-longest in the nation. Only Arizona (22),

Kansas (17), Kentucky (15) and Duke (11) have longer current

streaks.

The Spartans have also notched at least 20 wins for the eighth

time in the past 10 years.

"This is unbelievable," Neitzel said after working his way

throw the crowd and heading to a postgame press conference. "It is

a chance for us to leave our legacy and our footprints on the

program."

The junior guard hit two 3-pointers late in the game that gave

the Spartans momentum. One of his shots bounced in and out of the

basket twice before falling through, giving Michigan State a 56-51

lead with about 2:20 left.

His 3-pointer just a few minutes earlier gave the Spartans the

lead for good, 51-49, with just under 4 minutes left.

"Neitzel hit some real tough shots, just like we knew he

would," Wisconsin's Kammron Taylor said.

Marcus Landry led Wisconsin with 18 points. Alando Tucker had

16, only two in the second half.

A tenacious Michigan State defense forced Tucker to settle for

outside shots. The Spartans also dominated on the boards,

outrebounding the Badgers 41-24.

"That's the best defense I've faced this season," Tucker said.

Travis Walton had 13 points and 10 assists for Michigan State

and Raymar Morgan added 12 points.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo soaked up the celebration

afterwards, counting it as one of the best wins he has enjoyed on

the Spartans' home court.

"I just sat and watched," Izzo said of the aftermath. "It's

one of those memory makers, and that's what life is all about."

The Badgers will aim to bounce back against Ohio State in what

still figures to be a highly hyped game. Wisconsin already has set

a school records for victories in a season, despite having a

five-game win streak snapped Tuesday.

"We still have a game to play on Sunday," forward

Brian Butch

said. "Our schedule doesn't stop because we lost."