New York — Michigan State sophomore Miles Bridges led the Spartans (29-3) with 20 points in their 63-60 win over ninth-seeded Wisconsin at Madison Square Garden in the Big Ten Conference quarterfinals. The Spartans will square off with No. 15 Michigan, who beat Nebraska 77-58 on Friday, in Saturday’s semifinals.
Michigan State holds on to beat Wisconsin 63-60 and move to the semifinals.
It’s only fitting that Bridges gets to give college hoops fans some final looks at his wondrous talent under the bright lights in New York City before heading towards his final games in the NCAA Tournament, after which he’ll undoubtedly declare for the NBA Draft.
The Big Ten might be having what is considered a down season, with Michigan State, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State and Purdue looking like the only teams with resumes worthy of an invitation to March Madness.
But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have some stone-cold ballers worth savoring.
Michigan State sits down with BTN to discuss the quarterfinal victory over Wisconsin on Friday.
Bridges shocked many college hoops fans when he decided to return to East Lansing for his sophomore season, as he was considered a lock to be selected in last year’s NBA Draft lottery.
Many experts see him as a top ten pick in 2018. With a powerful build, aggressive mindset and standing 6-foot-7, he has the lateral quickness and a wet jumper that will allow him to get busy as an NBA small forward. Combine his elite strength with some freakish explosiveness and athleticism, and dude is a highlight reel just waiting to happen.
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And don’t forget the subtle handles and a sweet in-and-out crossover that allows him to consistently get past defenders in the open floor. For a wing, he’s tremendous on the boards and as a shot blocker due to his muscularity, body control and ability to elevate.
Peep the ambidextrous finishes in traffic while converting layups and ramming home some video game-like dunks. This scoring arsenal is rounded out with some soft floaters and elegant spin moves, and he presents a danger to those guarding him because he can also look for his teammates and pass the rock adeptly.
And as good as Bridges is, he’s not even the top NBA Draft prospect in the Big Ten. That would be his freshmen teammate Jaren Jackson, Jr., a 6-foot-11, 242-pound 18 year old who’s being mentioned as a possible Top-3 pick, ahead of some more celebrated college big men like Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, Missouri’s Michael Porter and Texas’ Mohamed Bamba.
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Jackson only averages a shade over 20 minutes per game, but scouts think his potential is through the roof.
Penn State’s 6-foot-5 sophomore guard Tony Carr and Ohio State’s 6-foot-7 senior small forward Keita Bates-Diop, mentioned as among the country’s most improved players, both have a good chance of being selected on Draft night as well.
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And don’t sleep on Michigan’s Moritz Wagner, the 6-foot-11 junior from Germany. The big man affectionately known in Ann Arbor as “Mo Buckets” is a work-in-progress on the defensive end, but his offensive skills and scoring ability make him an intriguing prospect in the late first/early second round.