This is The Most Important Game Of The Season. No qualifiers necessary. Michigan could be 1-29 - still with a win in Breslin, of course - and this would be The Most Important Game Of The Season still. The fact that tomorrow's winner is likely to make the NCAA Tournament while the loser is likely NIT-bound barring a strong run in Indianapolis... well, I don't have to explain the stakes to you.
I've started this post a hundred times, and frantically erased a couple paragraphs that just didn't seem adequate for the situation. I'm no college basketball fanatic, but this game just feels... bigger. I'm struck with writer's block at the enormity of the moment, much like Brian must have when he started writing Eleven Swans. Nothing I can come up with will seem right.
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
This is a pretty even statistical matchup (and was probably tilted in Michigan's favor prior to the Spartans' beatdown of Iowa). You know the characters: Kalin Lucas is putting the team on his back, Durrell Summers is a huge disappointment, Korie Lucious will next hit the court for Iowa State, not MSU.
On the other side of the court, Michigan has been steadily improving since the victory in the Breslin Center, particularly on defense. Tim Hardaway has emerged into a star. Darius Morris is (ugh) the Butterfly. Jordan Morgan is holding his own in the post as a redshirt freshman.
With both teams' post-season hopes hanging in the balance, this should be one of the games of the year. And CBS thinks most of the country would rather see a routine beatdown of a terrible Oregon team! CBS is the anti-Sheen #notwinning.
Since there's a meager slate of games tonight, no dedicated post. You want Harvard to win and Princeton to lose in the Ivy League, so the Crimson can make the Tournament (and stay in the RPI top-50). Both games are at 7.
In the Horizon League, you probably want to cheer against Cleveland State to make the field a little easier for Butler. They'll likely get an at-large, so you don't want the league's auto-bid to go to anyone else.
There are tons of relevant games tomorrow, so look for an early-morning bracketology post.
With both teams' tournament lives on the line, I have to sadly side with Tom Izzo, who guaranteed a win Wednesday night (H/T iSportsWeb):
Don't get me wrong, John Beilein is one hell of a coach. But Tom Izzo isn't shabby himself, and he's been doing this a long time at Michigan State. He knows what it takes to get a win, and the NCAA Tournament is the norm in East Lansing. Nothing else is acceptable, and the players and coaches in green all know that.
Durrell Summers will break out of his offensive slump and Kalin Lucas will out-duel Darius Morris at the point guard spot. However, Tim Hardaway and some clutch shooting from the two juniors will keep this a tossup until the very end. Spartans win, 65-64.
Nothing says "tradition" like a tree grove sandwiched in between a stadium, high-rise concrete apartment buildings, and a parking lot. My favorite feature of the stadium complex, personally, is the exposed steam pipes in the southeast corner.
This debate was amusing. As someone who was at OSU the other week for just the second time in my life, I'll say this:
The stadium area is a gross, concrete, parking lot, industrial waste land. The stadium looks like shit from the outside and 40 floor dorm rooms are no way condusive to pimped out rooms with futons and couches.
I think from a strictly visual standpoint Ohio Stadium is gorgeous. The poured concrete, archways, height, routunda, open end, and shape all make it look extremely cool from the outside. The area around it may not have the charm of other stadium plazas, but from a purely stadium perspective, Ohio Stadium is tough to beat. And yes, the RPAC is the greatest thing I've ever been too. It's awesome.
Predicting a Spartan victory is fine, but a 20 point blowout??? A 9 point win with Green not playing much of a game? Have you been following your own team this year? Did you gain confidence from the 20 point beatdown Purdue put on you in Breslin? GTFO
tokenspartyboy. Go get me a beer and rub my feet. I'm going to enjoy this victory. By the way, if you ever need a letter of reference, let me know. That pizza delivery job is only going to get you so far. Sorry that degree in animal husbandry did not pan out for you.
What I am most happy about is that this UM team has put
itself in a position to dictate it's own destiny. The golden ring is there for them to grab. Sweep sparty and likely go dancing. Lose (assuming a fair and square game), go home with noone to blame but yourself.
There are also realistic picks, based on available evidence, etc. I think my prediction falls into that category, rather than either of yours.
Believe me, I don't want it to happen, but it's my job to be objective, and put feelings aside when making the pick. I just don't think that Tom Izzo and Kalin Lucas let Michigan be the team that knocks the Spartans out of the tournament for the first time in god know how long.
So Izzo and Lucas are sooo good that they won't let us win, but not good enough to beat us by a whole bucket? Come on Tim, if you truly think it's a toss-up, call it a toss-up. But if it's you seriously think it's so close that it will come down to a 1 point game and you feel the need to pick a winner, pick the Wolverines. I know it's your job to be objective, but you don't work for a sports blog, or a basketball blog, you work for a Michigan blog. Keep that in mind.
I agree I thought it was pretty weak of Tim to pick MSU winning by a point. If your going to do that Tim why not just pick the Wolverines? If you think states going to win then why not have them win by 4 or 5 or 6, a 1 point victory is kind of a cop out.
HAIL TO THE VICTORS VALIANT, HAIL TO THE CONQUERING HEROES!
I saw a poor Michigan State team beat a discombobulated Iowa team the other night. Even though MSU won by 20, the two teams both played poorly, with MSU playing less poorly. Michigan is the better team - no question about it. Michigan 75 - MSU 62.
It will be loud in Crisler this weekend - probably as loud and passionate as it has been in over a decade. For all the talk about MSU's greatness these past couple of years, they probably shouldn't have made it out of the first weekend during last year's NCAA tournament, and the year before they were not some juggernaut. This year's team has been even less impressive, and hasn't gotten any better throughout the year. UM winning tomorrow wouldn't be an upset, and that is something we haven't said before. I'm sure it will be a close game, but I am secretly confident that this game will go UM's way. I wouldn't be shocked if MSU won, but they have all the pressure and that can play strange games with a team's performance.
I'm heading to my 1st BBall game of the year tomorrow. I'm looking forward the seeing if we can really make it a home court advantage. I have never been to a basketball game that felt this big... Maize it out...
After that game I almost punched my 8 month pregnant wife. But that game may help us here. I think we sink some free throws and sink states season. Either team may jump out big but it will be close lower scoring game than prediction
Hot girls we have problems too. We're just like you. Except we're hot.
Honestly, I don't know who in LA cares about Arizona - Oregon. Oregon doesn't even have a shot at the NIT, so I doubt their fans even care too much about it, except maybe the die hards. And it's not like Arizona and Oregon are any kind of rivals either.
I've been waiting weeks to see Izzo pull a rabbit out of his carnival hat but that hasn't happened yet. Did the master of motivation use his last trick with last season's team sleep over or will he be able to blend the NCAA bid and rivalry game into a shot in his team's collective ass?
There are a lot of coaches around the country who wouldn't want to face a JB led team that had a week to prepare. I say the Wolverines will be more than ready. Novak, Vogrich, Morgan and Smot will play with a chippy toughness. Morris and Hardaway will be smooth. Stu will be calling Atlantic and Pacific before every shot at a basket that looks as big as the ocean.
I can see this game going either way. If Michigan gets its typical production out of the "big 3" (Morris, Hardaway and Morgan) and something out of the ordinary out anyone else (Novak, Douglas, Smotrycz, or maybe Vogrich) we'll be fine.
Obviously, we're looking at 40 minutes of time with our fate resting on the performance of 18-19 year olds (in our case anyway). I'm nervous, but can see a path to victory.