Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - The quarterfinal round in the 2013 Big Ten Conference Tournament concludes on Friday night, as the sixth-seeded Iowa Hawkeyes challenge the third-seeded Michigan State Spartans, with the winner moving on to the semifinals to tangle with the victory in the Nebraska/Ohio State matchup.
Iowa has quietly put together a solid campaign, going 21-11 overall and an even 9-9 in conference. The Hawkeyes come in as winners of three straight and four of their last five after disposing of 11th-seeded Northwestern in Thursday's opening round. Iowa improved to 15-13 all-time in the Big Ten Tournament, as the team seeks it third crown and first since 2006.
Michigan State is hoping for a lengthy spring run after going 24-7 overall and 13-5 in Big Ten play this season to finish in a tie for second place. The Spartans have key wins over Kansas, Boise State and Texas in non-league play, as well as Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa in conference. Coach Tom Izzo's club did however lose to regular-season champ Indiana twice, and it recently snapped a three-game skid by winning its final two regular-season bouts. MSU is second to only Ohio State in terms of total Big Ten Tournament titles with three, its most recent coming last year when it defeated the Buckeyes in a 68-64 final.
As mentioned, Michigan State won the only meeting with Iowa during the regular season, 62-59, on the Hawkeyes' home floor back on Jan. 10. As a result, the Spartans have claimed victory in 24 of the last 32 encounters between the two, and leads the all-time series by a 67-53 margin.
Iowa has a pair of All-Big Ten honorees in Third-Teamer Roy Devyn Marble (14.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.8 apg) and Honorable Mention selection Aaron White (13.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg), and the club ranks among the league leaders in scoring offense (70.7 ppg) while sitting at the top in FG percentage defense (.387) and 3-point FG percentage defense (.291) -- all stats involving regular-season games only. Marble scored 19 points, Mike Geselle had 13 and Melsahn Basabe logged a double-double consisting of 10 points and 12 rebounds, all of which were needed for the Hawkeyes to knock off Northwestern in Thursday's opening round. Iowa shot just 37.1 percent from the floor, but held the Wildcats to 36.7 percent, while easily winning the battle on the boards (48-31).
Michigan State has been getting it done at both ends of the court this season, scoring nearly 70 ppg, while allowing fewer than 60. The Spartans are led by standout performers Keith Appling (13.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.7 apg) and Gary Harris (13.2 ppg, .419 3-point FG percentage), the latter of whom was tabbed as the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year. Adreian Payne (10.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg) rounds out the unit's double-digit scorers, while also spearheading its rebounding effort, which currently stands at +6.8 margin, and the team has also done a masterful job of limiting open looks at the basket, with foes converting their field goal attempts a mere 39.2 percent of the time.