Michigan State 57 Michigan 56, Michigan 10-10 (3-5 Big Ten)
So, Michigan has been a pretty good team since the start of conference play. They look like a borderline NCAA squad. Except, uh, the season started in November, not January. Trying to dig out of a 6-5 hole before kicking off a single conference game, then throwing up all over themselves at Indiana, was something this team was never going to be able to do. The MSM articles have been harping on this point for weeks, but we've come to a point where the lack of leadership and the resulting inability to play urgently enough to show that an NCAA bid is something this team really wants, is bringing this team down.
Under different circumstances, a 1-point loss to Michigan State might be something of a moral victory. If Michigan had taken care of the non-conference schedule with only one or two losses like they should have, or not blown games against Indiana and Northwestern, or been able to steal the road win that they probably should have had against Wisconsin, I may be in a better mood. But those things didn't happen, and now this season is lost. An NIT bid is the best-case scenario.
I've gotten this far into the post without even talking about what happened in the game, because it really was that important for this season alone, much less the long-term implications of a Michigan basketball team that might be able to - gasp! - play with the Spartans. The Wolverines needed this game. They probably had this game, and it slipped away. Where last year's team was probably a bit lucky and a lot more grit gritterstein walkon-y, this team seems hollow, and we're beyond the point that the 2009-10 can be fixed.
The Wolverines played their asses off, forced turnovers, even got a few rebounds, and answered MSU runs. The Spartans shots the lights out (when they actually got shots), didn't let Michigan get good shots, and played a physical game. It transpired a lot like you'd expect, and Michigan simply couldn't hold onto a late lead. All credit goes to Kalin Lucas, who has ice flowing through his veins.
"Let's just have him come off the bench, and go in and be Manny out there." John Beilein, on Manny Harris not starting the game.
"If I was the other team, I wouldn't have wanted it called." DeShawn Sims, with the night's "duh" moment, on the last play of the game.
"Take a day off tomorrow, clear our mind, and Thursday we'll get ready for Iowa." Zack Novak, on how to shake off this game and move on.
"We've still gotta believe and continue to work hard to get better. At any time, we can make a run." Manny Harris, on the team's mental state.
In these last 10 games, I feel like we should start winning." Darius Morris, on how the tean's improvement will show on the court.
Michigan has a nice 3-day layoff (for the first time in 2 weeks) before inviting the Iowa Hawkeyes into Crisler Arena. Iowa is, like, terrible, so it would be very fitting for Michigan to choke this game away and cause mass suicides in the general Washtenaw County region.