Feb. 20, 2007
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -Wisconsin's first-ever game as the nation's top-ranked team went poorly Tuesday night, when Drew Neitzel scored 28 points to lead Michigan State to a 64-55 victory.
Wisconsin gained the No. 1 spot in The Associated Press poll for the first time in school history on Monday.
Neitzel's 3-pointer with 3:51 left gave Michigan State a 51-49 lead, and the Spartans held on for the victory, giving their NCAA tournament hopes a boost before their home crowd.
The sellout crowd at Breslin Center serenaded the Badgers with a chant of "overrated" as the clock wound down. Students stormed the court at the final horn.
"If you start to chant 'overrated,' I'm leaving," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan joked before addressing media in his postgame press conference.
Ryan said he didn't think the pressure of playing with the No. 1 ranking affected his team's performance.
"I don't think that had anything to do with it," Ryan said. "Michigan State played better."
The upset puts a damper on Wisconsin's showdown Sunday with No. 2 Ohio State.
The Buckeyes now have a half-game lead over Wisconsin (26-3, 12-2 Big Ten) in the conference race. Ohio State hosts Penn State on Wednesday.
Wisconsin started slow against Michigan State (20-8, 7-6), playing in front of a deafening crowd that was mostly decked out in white as requested by the school's athletic department.
The Badgers trailed 7-0 after coach Bo Ryan picked up a technical, complaining about the lack of a foul call on a Michigan State offensive rebound.
After Ryan cooled down, the Badgers heated up and went on a 16-3 run to take a 16-10 lead. Despite getting outrebounded by a nearly 2-to-1 margin in the first half, Wisconsin was able to head to the break with a 30-29 lead behind Alando Tucker's 14 first-half points.
Michigan State grabbed a four-point lead early in the second half, but the Badgers bounced right back in large part behind Marcus Landry's 3-point shooting. His 3 with 7:34 left gave the Badgers a 47-43 lead.
That's when Neitzel and Michigan State took over.
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. An earlier 3-pointer gave Michigan State a 51-49 edge, and the Spartans never trailed again.
"This is unbelievable," Neitzel said after working his way through 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."
Michigan State had not beaten a top-ranked team since Earvin 'Magic' Johnson led the Spartans past Larry Bird and Indiana State in the 1979 national championship game.
Landry had 18 points for Wisconsin. Tucker had 16, but only two in the second half.