Big Wrestling Meet Tomorrow at Cliff Keen with #17 UofM against #6 Ohio State at 7 PM. On Saturday the Wolverines will square off against #24 Penn State at the same time and venue. Michigan is undefeated in the Big Ten and is coming off a blowout win against MSU. The team is really starting to click now it seems.
UofM ranked wrestlers (According to intermat)
125 Pounds: Michael Watts (SR) 17th
141 Pounds: Kellen Russell (So) 5th
174 Pounds: Steve Luke (SR) 1st
184 Pounds: Anthony Biondo (So) 13th
197 Pounds: Tyrell Todd (SR) 6th
133 Pounds: Reece Humphrey (JR) 2nd
141 Pounds: J Jaeggers (SR) 11th
149 Pounds: Lance Palmer (JR) 4th
157 Pounds: Jason Johnstone (SR) 17th
165 Pounds: Colt Sponseller (So) 2nd
184 POunds: Mike Pucillo (Jr) 2nd
125 Pounds: Brad Pataky (SO) 13th
133 Pounds: Jake Strayer (Sr) 9th
149 Pounds: Bubba Jenkins (Jr) 2nd
165 Pounds: Dan Vallimont (Jr) 20th
174 Pounds: Quentin Wright (Fr) 17th
Heres My Predictions
125- Watts (UM) vs Triggas (OSU). This is a big match for Michigan. Watts needs to try and get some extra points. Most likely a UofM win but only 3 team points (3-0 UM)
133- Stevens (UM) vs Humphrey (OSU). Humphrey is a stud and Stevens is a true freshman. Stevens needs to do the best he can to not get pinned. Stevens did an excellent job against Franklin Gomez of MSU (5th ranked)only getting majored. I ll give Stevens the benefit of the doubt (UM-3 OSU-5)
141- Russell (UM) vs Jaggers (OSU). Wow, this is gonna be a great match. Russell is a true Sophomore and made alot of noise last year, being Michigans big time recruit from Blair Academy. Russell beat Jaggers in a close match last year and will do the same this year. (UM-6 OSU-5)
149- Beaudrey (UM) vs Palmer (OSU). It's gonna be tough for Beaudry to stay off his back against Palmer. Beaudrey is new to the UM lineup and Palmer is a stud. UM-6 OSU-11
157- Hynes (UM) vs Nemac (OSU). This is a match UM has to have. Nemac is a true freshman but was one of the top recruits of the nation this year. Hynes is a senior and needs to step up. UM-9 OSU 11
165- Zeerip (UM) vs Sponseller (OSU). Zeerip is a 4 time state champ out of Michigan and had never lost a match in high school. However, he is a redshirt freshman and learning the ropes of college wrestling. Sponseller is a tested veteran. Zeerip needs to try and keep close, however it will be hard. UM-9 OSU 15
174- Luke (UM) vs Rella (OSU). This is where Michigans big boys come up. Luke is the top rated 174 for a reason, he is tough. Should be looking for a pin here. UM-15 OSU 15
184- Biondo (UM) vs Pucillo (OSU). Biondo has shown great improvement. I can't believe he used to wrestled 103 in high school! But Pucillo is very good, should be a decent match but Pucillo should pull out a close one UM 15 OSU 18
197- Todd (UM) vs Gardner (OSU). Todd is a captain and needs to work for extra points here. If he can get the pin, it would be huge. I ll give it to him here. UM 21 OSU 18
HVY- Phillips (UM) vs Morrison (OSU). The winner of the meet will be decided at hvy. Phillips is undersized for a heavyweight but is all muscle. Morrison is a little more of a true heavyweight. A Michigan loss here and they tie, a Phillips win and the team wins....I ll give it to Phillips UM 24 OSU 18. Granted I think a Tie is very possible and there is no tiebreaker in college wrestling.
Despite not playing a game, Michigan’s hopes for a NCAA tournament bid took a hit as a result of last night’s action on the hardwood. Left to scoreboard watching in the wake of the Wolverine’s loss to the Spartans Tuesday, I was hoping to see some fellow bubble teams crash and burn. Sadly the opposite happened and several teams that were even or slightly ahead of UM in the bubble pecking order notched key wins. Here’s a quick wrap of some of the bad news:
The Kansas State Wildcats routed Texas Tech, notching their sixth straight victory. The win puts KSU in the driver’s seat for fourth place in the Big 12 and a first-round bye in the league’s postseason tournament. It also helped further legitimize their quest for a surprise bid in the post Beasley/Walker era. A win Saturday at home against the hated Jayhawks could put KSU in near lock status.
Continuing their strong mid winter push, the Cincy Bearcats clinched their first winning season under new coach Mark Cronin by slipping by dormant St. Johns. The Bearcats aren’t celebrating that feat as they have bigger fish to fry: A possible NCAA tourney bid and a date with powerful Pittsburgh over the weekend.
LSU notched its biggest win in years (even bigger than during the Final Four run in 2006? Really?), and have solidified its place atop the SEC West standings and, perhaps, more importantly in the NCAA field.
Elsewhere in the SEC, the Tennessee Vols kept pace in the SEC East. They beat up on a team they should beat in last place Georgia, so the win is not impressive by any stretch. Still, after losing at weak Auburn over the weekend, the Vols needed a bounce back win. With their SOS, it will be tough to keep the Vols out of the field, but every game from here on out will be important.
Here’s a shocker: the Virginia Tech Hokies played another close game. Always living on the edge, Virginia Tech has avoided disaster all week. Sunday, they used a miracle second half comeback to stave off an upset bid from NC State. Last night, a workmanlike performance was needed to ease by Georgia Tech. The Hokies are in great position for a bid, but they’re heading into the meatiest part of their slate. They close out with 2 games against FSU and a game each against Maryland, UVA, UNC, Duke and Clemson, so they have a long way to go before they can feel easy about being guaranteed a spot.
The Wisconsin Badgers are back in contention for a bid after winning their third game in a row after topping Iowa last night. Wisco looked dead only days ago, but one winning streak later they’re probably no worse than sixth in the Big 10 pecking order heading into the weekend.
It’s time to drink the Dayton Flyer Koolaid. After dropping a game over the weekend to UNC Charlotte, Dayton responded by getting its biggest resume win of the season, thumping state rival Xavier. If the Flyers showed any signs of weakness, I got the impression bracketologists were more than willing to dump them from their fields. However, after such a marquee win, the Flyers looks as secure in the field as any other bubble team right now.
Out west, Utah buzzed San Diego State to take over sole possession of first place in the Mountain West Conference. We all know how I feel about the MWC and their projected four bids into the tournament. Last night's results probably did not impact that number for today, but I actually think the Utes win spins somewhat positively for the Maize and Blue. Among the quartet of teams (Utah, SDSU, BYU and UNLV), the Utes appeared to be the most firm in most mock fields. BYU and UNLV are just hanging on by a thread. The Aztecs are somewhere in between. The loss to Utah should push them closer to the bubble's edge. I dont think the Aztecs get an at large bid unless they win the regular season crown. Last night's loss will make that feat harder to achieve.
All those teams notching wins last night are officially ahead of Michigan in the pecking order. Not only do the Wolverines need to turn their own season around, but they could use a hiccup or two out of those programs as well.
It was not all bad news for the Maize and Blue tournament hopes last night. Some positive results did come across the finish line.
Penn State continued to see its shine dull. The Lions have now dropped three in a row and have to be behind Michigan now in the Big 10’s pecking order. PSU stud Talor Battle was shut down last night and eventually outclassed by a plucky Purdue walk-on, dubbed Bobby Buckets.
The Baylor Bears continued its freefall. They were a team I would have pegged in preseason as a tournament team. However, they started the week in worse position than Michigan, and they missed another chance to snare a big win when Oklahoma drubbed them on their home floor.
Boston College, a team in most fields right now as a double digit seed, lost a halftime lead and dropped a home game to Clemson. The Eagles bid is out there for the taking if they continue to play average ball.
It does not sound like much, but at least those results helped Michigan’s cause.
Focusing on the Bracket Project, of the final dozen teams fielded via at large bids, six notched wins this week, two lost and four either haven’t played this week or don’t take the floor again until this weekend. Of the first eight teams left out of the field, Wisconsin, Creighton, and Kansas State won; Michigan, Penn St and Oklahoma St lost; St Mary’s plays tonight; and Georgetown is off until Saturday.
What does any of that mean? Nothing, really, as these are only faux brackets and there are a ton of hoops left to be played. However, a pecking order is being determined. As of now, nobody looks like they’re falling out of the field. That’s not good for Michigan. Worse, it looks like they’re falling to the bottom of the list of the group of wannabees that currently sit on the outside looking in.
A lot can change with a full weekend of hoops ahead of us. And, there are some games going on tonight that might help shakedown the bubble. Here’s what’s on tap:
USC at Arizona, 10:30, FSN. Line, AU -2
Far and away, this game between the Trojans and Wildcats is the biggest bubble matchup of the night. In the Bracket Project, both of these clubs are among the final dozen at large teams, with USC coming in as an 11-seed and Arizona just squeezing in as a 12. The Cats are hot right now, riding a five game winning streak. Tonight, they face a plucky USC team that is 30-13 ATS as an underdog in the Tim Floyd era. They’ve also covered 17 of their last 24 on the road. Hmmm, intriguing. Regardless, the loser tonight finds their tenous spot in the field on even shakier ground. Michigan fans need to root for the loser tonight to go in a tailspin.
Gonzaga at St. Mary’s, 11, ESPN 2. Line, Zags -4.5
The Gaels may prove an interesting case study for the committee. They seemed a sure thing until a few weeks ago when star Patty Mills went down with a broken hand. They’ve lost three of four since. According to the Bracket Project, the Gaels are a consensus ‘final four teams out’ team, although Lunardi, for one, at ESPN still places them along the 11-line. The committee has been known to give teams dealing with injuries a break, provided they're healthy and playing well come Selection Sunday. With a win tonight over the Zags, the Gaels may not need the charity. With a loss, however, the club is on thin ice.
The Zags, meanwhile, were worked over ptetty good on their home floor by Memphis their last time out. Despite being undeafeted in league play, the loss is creating some introspection among the Kennel Klub patrons.
Louisville at Notre Dame. 7 pm ESPN. Line, L’Ville -2
Dear Louisville: Please stick a dagger in the heart (if they still have one….zing!!) of the Irish tonight. Once a top-10 team, the Irish aren’t even on anybody’s radar right now as far as an at large bid is concerned. That’s what a 7-game losing streak will do to you. Irish fans appear to have given up the ship. Rather than hammering more discussion on a one-man offense and a defense that cant stop the other team's best forward, Irish bloggers have gone back to the drawing board in hopes of discovering the keys to creating a perennial power.
The slate eases up slightly down the stretch for Notre Dame, so if the Irish can nab a big scalp tonight against the Cardinals they might be able to claw their way back into everyone’s good graces. Let’s hope it does not happen.
Illinois at Northwestern, 9pm, ESPN 2. Line, Illini -2
The Illini are a lock to make the field. The Wildcats are a long shot. This is not a huge bubble game, but it’s the only Big 10 game of the night. Michigan plays the Wildcats next, so tune in for some advance scouting.
UCLA at Arizona St, 9pm ESPM. Line, UCLA -1
First place is on the line tonight in the desert. Ben Ball was stifled in these team's first game. Can UCLA exact a measure of revenge?
Meanwhile, despite a team battling for first place and a projected Sweet 16 team, it appears that nobody in Tempe is paying attention. Of course, when the primary blog covering ASU is plastered with football recruiting news on the day of the biggest hoops game of the season, can you blame anyone for not being that sky high?
Considering UM’s SOS took a hit last night with the losses by Duke and Northeastern, it would be nice to see UCLA win this game. Michigan will be on the bubble come Selection Sunday and their win over the Bruins needs to look as impressive as possible. A win over the Pac 10 champs would be a nice feather in the Wolverines’ cap.
[Comrades / Friends of the Revolution / Proletariat brothers],
[money stained hands of capitalism / cowardly bourgeosie / makers of substandard Vodka]
[false campaign of imperialist propaganda / corrupt hearts / capitalist lapdogs]
[quell our revolution / overtake the people’s hearts / drink all of our Vodka] !!
Insert picture of [Rodriguez as Stalin / Barwis as Mao / Will Campbell with a non-Thor people’s hammer / Randall from Clerks wearing a CCCP hockey jersey]
Rumors of the previous year’s
[less than adequate performance / minor setback on the road to true communism / failure of the new regime]
Have been spread by
[enemies of the revolution / shameless bourgeosie / misinformed unicorns].
Take heart!! These liars and thieves will be sent to
[Siberia / the darkest Gulag / East Lansing],
And their ramblings will be proven wrong! For next season our
[people’s army / revolutionary zealots / glorious proletariat]
[purge the capitalist insurgents / sympathize with the people / fix a random number of tractors / increase production at the exclamation point factory !!!!!!!]
[proving the worth of the revolution / sucking out the festering rot in their souls / winning more games for the motherland].
Unicorns rule! Far more than [insert your favorite mythical creature]
[Comrades / Brothers / Friends of the revolution],
Comrade Rodriguez will rise up
[from the muck of the Russian Steppe / to heights undreamt of by the shameless capitalists / like Ivan Drago in Rocky IV]
And conquer all!
[Viva le revolucion! / Death to dirty capitalists / Drink Wolverine brand vodka!]
Lather, rinse, repeat.
So I was parusing my usual USCHO.com Bracketology by Jason Moy reading for today and I had a disturbing thought.
Michigan hockey is in line for #1 seed which is good. But if Notre Dame finished ahead of us, they likely would get the #1 seed in the region closest to them which is Grand Rapids, likely pushing us out to the Western regional in Minnesota. Not too bad yet.
HOWEVER, Minnesota still has a shot of getting in as a #4 seed which since they're the host school for the Western regional, that means they get to play home games at theri campus rink as #4 seed. I'm sure the astute Michigan hockey fan will remember the advantage we received playing as the lower seed in Yost when we took out St Cloud St and one of those Colorado schools (Denver, right??) who was the #1 seed that year. So I don't want to get screwed by being a #1 seed and having to go to a "Region of Death" accentuated by the #4 seed being the home team.
That brings up the interesting dilemma... do we take the final day/weekend of the CCHA regular season off to lower our RPI so we're not a #1 seed. You say, "But W.I.E., even if we're a #2 seed that doesn't mean we won't get into a region of death". True, we still could be the #2 seed, get shipped to Minnesota's region anyway and still possibly play them in a regional final.
I hate doing this thought exercise, but let's take a hypothetical. Say we do this and get the #2 seed. Then say the NCAA decides to act on the proposed "geographic limitation rule" for all tourneys except basketball where a conscious effort is made to keep all teams as close to campus as possible. This would mean as a #2 seed we would likely be kept in Grand Rapids with Notre Dame as the #1 and a third CCHA team as the #3 seed (Ohio State by the latest bracketology). Outside of IMO having a better chance to win the region overall, the atmosphere in that place would be electric and provide some very entertaining rivalry hockey.
Now Minnesota could make this all moot by losing their at-large bid through continuing to descend the last couple weeks of the season (I'll take my chances with a Wisconsin #4 seed in Minneapolis). And I hate losing no matter what. But what say you M-hockey nation? Would you consider tanking against Ferris if it meant avoiding a Region of Death and getting our own non-#1 seed home regional in grand rapids?
With the Game of Year in the Mountain West Conference going on tonight, its as good a time as any to discuss the league and its tournament bid chances. Tonight, Utah travels to San Diego State and sole possession of first place is on the line. Apparently, you're missing something if you're not watching Mountain West hoops. The league is having a watershed season. At least, I assume it is. What other conclusion can I make considering that for most of the winter, bracketologists everywhere have been landing a boatload of MWC teams into their field. With 32 days until Selection Sunday, the MWC is seeing 4 of its team in plenty of mock brackets and just about everyone has no less than three teams in the field.
Bracketology 101 called out ESPN's Joe Lunardi last week for including four MWC teams (Utah, SDSU, BYU and UNLV) in his field last week. Lunardi still those four in his field, albeit with BYU and UNLV among the final four in his field. However, B101 is finding the league is hard to resist, admitting to caving in with his latest mock field and even he has three MWC on the board.
I concur with B101's original sentiment. Not to disrespect the fine, competitive hoops they play in the Rockies, but are you kidding me with four bids into the NCAA field? That's almost half their league! What is this, some sort extra credit for the impressive football season the league just completed? I guess its the Year of the MWC. Nobody told me that. Do I still have time to get all my Year of the MWC shopping in before its over?
Even with Michigan's loss to MSU last night, it does not take a PHD in argumentative logic to win a debate that Michigan has the better resume and team than most of the MWC clubs being considered at this point. Throwing Michigan out of the equation, however, I conted we can make a better case for several of the bubble teams left out of most fields today over the at large bids given to the MWC teams.
The league is seventh in the conference RPI rankings. Thats an excellent mark for them, but its just one measurable. The MWC deserves an at large based upon that, but I dont think that alone should warrant the inclusion of more than that.
What if we did conference challenges between the MWC and other comparable leagues and matched the top four MWC teams against the top four teams from either the Missouri Valley, Colonial, Atlantic 10 or West Coast leagues? I've watched enough hoops this year, where I would expect the MVC and CAA to come out on top and I'd be more than willing to put my money where my mouth is. None of these other leagues is in much contention to receive an at large bid, let alone multiple ones.
Browsing through the mocks that have loaded up on MWC teams reveals a sentiment that perhaps nobody else is buying this many MWC bids either. But the bulk of the bubble is so weak that its hard to bump any of them out right now. I can only buy part of that thought process. I agree the overall bubble is not that strong. But, I disagree that there aren't teams currently on the outside looking in that have better resumes and achieved as much, if not more, in better leagues than the MWC.
Enough of my hyperbolic opinion. As we get ready for tonight's showdown, lets do what is only natural this time of year: Breakdown and compare resumes.
SDSU 17-5, 7-2
W/L vs RPI top 50, 100:1-2, 3-4
Best 6 Wins:SD, at UNLV, BYU. TCU, Utah, at CSU
Key Losses: Arizona, ASU, St. Mary, at BYU at Wyoming
Our old friend Steve Fisher has a nice team in the Aztecs, and he is trying to coax them into a third tournament appearance since he arrived in town. I wonder how many of his SDSU players have phone numbers of local bookies in the cell phones?
Low blows aside, it's nice to see Fisher have some success this late in his career. I would encourage anyone to check out a few minutes of any televised Aztec game, if only to see the Haray Carey-esque eyeglasses look the Fish is rocking these days. It's unintentional comedy at its finest.
Anway, lets dive into their resume. Following his mentor Bill Freider's lead, Fisher's club loaded up on a lot of cupcakes, gobbling wins against the likes of UC-San Diego, Western Carolina, Hampton, Seattle (not the Sonics), Northern Colorado and Arkansas Pine Bluff. They had three notable OOC games, but lost all three.
The Aztecs only have three wins versus the RPI top 100. Compare to Michigan, which has more than twice as many. Or Cincy, Arizona, USC and Miami which has twice as many. But, its SDSU that's in all but 5 mock brackets that have been updated after last weekend's action, while the other schools are fighting for their spots.
My problem with SDSU's resume is that their best wins of the season are all in league play. Are we saying the MWC is so strong that a team with ziltch on their OOC resume can still net a bid on the back of home court wins in league play? If that's the case, why aren't we also talking about Northeastern of the CAA, Tulsa from CUSA or Creighton from the VC deserving at large bids. We aren't.
I dont think SDSU is a team that can win a game in the tournament, and isn't that a key factor in finally determining who gets into the field. The irony of Michigan and SDSU battling on the same bubble makes for a nice story line. But, if the Aztecs grab an at large bid and Michigan is one the final teams left out in the cold, my bitterness towards Fisher will only grow.
Utah 16-7, 7-2
W/L vs RPI top 50, 100: 2-4,6-5
Best 6 Wins: Ole Miss, Oregon, Gonzaga, LSU, BYU, New Mexico
Key Losses:SW Baptist, Idaho St, Utah St, Oklahoma, Cal, at SDSU, at UNLV
Way back in the 1990s, the Utah Utes were guaranteed spots in the NCAA field. Basketball season has not been as kind to Utah in recent years, but this year's Utes squad may finally have recaptured the magic of the peak Majerus years. A win tonight in their showdown with SDSU may officially prove the Utes are back.
Given their RPI, SOS and resume building OOC wins over LSU and Gonzaga, Utah has a much better case for an at large bid, even if they lose and get swept tonight by SDSU. Six wins against the RPI top 100 is not something you usually see from a mid major, so that's a nice feather in their cap.
You know what's not a nice feather in their cap? Those atrocious losses to SW Baptist and Idaho State. Yet, the Utes are 11 in the RPI. Are we sure the RPI formula is working? How can a team have those horrible losses, play in a quasi mid major league and yet still remain among the cream of thr RPI crop? Somebody over there may need a new math consultant.
On one hand, those losses were two months ago. However, I saw plenty of commentary this week regarding Kentucky's suddenly shaky bid, pointing out not only the Cats losing streak at the time, but also their embarrassing loss to VMI way back in the season opener. Utah's losses should be weighed accordingly. At least VMI is in first place of the Southern Conference and will likely end up in the tournament. Idaho State is in the bottom half of the Big Sky. As for SW Baptist, I dont even knoW what division of hoops they play, let alone their conference ranking.
If it comes down to Utah and others for one of the final spots, how do those losses not come back to haunt them? Miami, Michigan, Cincy and Penn St, just to name a few, play in tougher leagues, have marquee OOC wins, but dont have those pair of stinkers on their resume that the Utes do.
BYU 17-5, 5-3
W/L vs RPI top 50, 100: 2-3, 4-5
Best 6 Wins: Utah St, Tulsa, SDSU, TCU, Wyoming, at CSU
Key Losses: New Mexico, Utah, UNLV, Arizona St, Wake
The Cougars are the only team in the country to beat Utah State. And, they have a win over Tulsa, the second place team in Conference USA. I'm sold. Go ahead and put them in the field. Most folks have chugged the Cougar Koolaid (wait a minute....that sounds interesting.....perhaps the more perverted wing of the WLA can get to work on a recipe.....but, I digress). BYU finds itself in 30 out of 45 mock brackets that have been updated to include recent games.
I dont mean to knock that win over the Aggies. That's an elite mid major program. But, should Bracket Buster Day type wins pave the way for this kind of seemingly automatic inclusion into the field? I say no. There has to be more than that. Adding in a win over Tulsa and nice MWC record just does not scream at large invite.
When you think about it, isn't BYU's 5-3 MWC mark rather pedestrian? We're talking about leaving .500 teams from BCS leagues out of the field, yet we're blindly promoting a BYU club that's only two games above .500 in a lesser league. You know who else is within that same range record wise in comparable leagues? Try Houston, Temple and Illinois State. Those teams are nowhere near the bubble, but BYU has crashed the gates.
The Cougars are in with a 5-3 MC conference mark, but Cincy and Penn State are still fighting to get noticed with a 6-5 mark in the Big East and Big 10 respectively. Does that make sense?
The Cougars might need to worry that a fellow league member's slide may bode ill for them and other conference members on the bubble.
UNLV 18-6, 6-4
W/L vs RPI top 50, 100: 3-2, 3-2
Best 6 Wins: San Diego, Arizona, at Louisville, at BYU, Utah, TCU
Key Losses:Cal, Cincy, at TCU, at CSU, SDSU, at NM
Wow. Another MWC team that hasn't won more than 60 percent of their league games gets a majority of bracketologists on board with their resume. Typically that winning percentage is NIT material out of this sort of league. Yet, 60 percent of the mocks (27 out of 45) that have been updated since the weekend still place the Rebels in their field.
The Rebels have not been playing all that well of late. Early it looked like they might have been the best team in the league. But, they dropped winnable road games at TCU and CSU and more recently lost consecutive games to SDSU and New Mexico. Fans are expecting a roller coaster, with the strong chance of hell breaking loose, down the stretch.
UNLV has great wins over Arizona and Louisville. But, they also lost to fellow bubble mates Cincy and Cal. Seriously, how can you put UNLV in your field, but not the CU Bearcats. They basically have indentical league marks, but Cincy plays in a much tougher conference and they beat the Rebels head to head, in Vegas no less.
Compare the Rebels resume with Michigan's and tell me which one is better. UM has a better RPI, shatters them in the SOS department, play in a better league, have more marquee OOC wins and have twice as many wins over the RPI top 100. I dont feel that UM should be on too many bracket lines in the wake of last night's loss. Nor do I understand all the love I see UNLV getting in the mock brackets.
Here's where the rubber meets the road for me when it comes to UNLV. They lost to TCU. Now, the Horned Frogs are up and coming, but they still lost this year to Indiana. Anyone who loses to a team that lost to Indiana this year should be eliminated from consideration. That's just the rules.
Yesterday, as I watched Michigan's awful performance against Michigan State, I wondered about who is Michigan's worst rival, Ohio State or Michigan State.
I am precluding this by mentioning that football is the most important, basketball is great, but still just a distraction from football's dead period. Also, we can leave out Notre Dame and Minnesota, the fact that Notre Dame is non-conference, Minnesota has been owned by Michigan recently, and the fact that game is not even played annually.
Call it whatever you want, heresy, channeling Gary Moeller perhaps, but I believe Michigan State is Michigan's worst rival. Maybe I say that because I live in Grand Rapids, west side of the state, where there are almost two State fans per Michigan fans, and not many of those Michigan fans really care. Or perhaps, in light of State's win in football this past year, or the debacle last night, I have a newfound passion for hating MSU this year. Also, there are not really too many Ohio State fans, that I see at least, I do not really know of any that live around here. They might live in southeast Michigan or in the Toledo area where the rivalry is seemingly most heated, but I am not really aware that many Ohio State fans exist in most of the state of Michigan.
I think that the Michigan-Ohio State bloodbath (not that I've had much experience with the rivalry) really is a tremendous rivalry, but to be honest, I believe that it is a rivalry that is based loosely on mutual respect, or at least acknowledgement for the other's program. I did actually just say that. Michigan is a better program by far, more class, dignity, intelligence, etc. but I have to say that Ohio State is a decent program. Also, I think that the Ohio State rivalry is by far the best rivalry in the state of Ohio, with Michigan fans and Ohio State fans going at it constantly. However, in the state of Michigan, particularly in West, North, and Central Michigan, even around Ann Arbor, Michigan State is a bigger rival, not by much more than the Buckeyes, but still more. The Michigan-Michigan State rivalry is based purely on the inferiority complex set on MSU by Michigan (which is not without merit, frankly it's true). Michigan State hates Michigan so passionately that it is really amazing. Michigan however, feels that State is just another win, and never gives them any credit for anything; and Michigan State takes that as an insult which only adds to the rivalry. Add to the inferiority complex the annual recruiting battles (especially in Detroit, which Michigan typically wins), the success of michigan now and in the past, and the fact that Michigan State rally does not compare with Michigan in respects to tradition, talent, history, or even fan base. Also, I could say that Michigan-Ohio State is fueled by the ESPN, SI, etc. hype on the rivalry, which is really just an excuse to fill their telecast, magazine, web site, whatever. That really just adds to the perception that Michigan-Ohio State is a bigger rivalry than Michigan-Michigan State, it is still an excellent rivalry, but I'd finally give kudos to Michigan State for once and call them a bigger rival. ESPN in particular hypes rivalries way too much, and I've heard it a few times during the North Carolina-Duke game by Dickie V, how that fits in I do not know. Rivalries are a huge thing, but they are mainly a product of the fans which goes down to the players, coaches etc. but not a national thing, moreover a localized one.
Maybe I say this because I am incredulous that State won this past year, or that they chanted Go Green, Go White, (Can't Read, Can't Write) after winning said game, followed up with a "little sister" chant, at the Big House. Or, maybe I held on to hope that Michigan would upset them last night. Maybe it was recent frustration in most of the recruiting battles in-state as of late (except William Campbell, yes...), or perhaps that I am outnumbered by State fans here in GR. I guess that most of what I am saying is a matter of present circumstance, or maybe I haven't experienced the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry for real. (Note: I have gone to the past four or five Ohio State games at home, and go to almost every home game, so I have seen the fervor in person.)
I guess what I've tried to say is that, at least right now, and around here, Michigan State is a bigger rival than Ohio State. Not by much, but still a little bigger ( at the very least, around the same).
Agree? Disagree? A matter of opinion?
(I am bracing myself for the explosion, so try not to be too vicious here, I am a fellow Michigan diehard, so insults are really not too appropriate).
Go Blue, little brother.