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.
You certainly have to respect what the Sparties have
accomplished over the last few years, they have been one of the top programs of the past decade, but I can't see how they are going to turn on the 'Champions' switch that has been mostly off all year. Our guys have raised their game to a new level; they aren't the same team that began the year by a long shot. I'm still not going to say we are better than they are, as a program, but I see us pulling it out tomorrow and putting Michigan basketball back on the map.
You have to play this game like somebody just hit your mother with a two-by-four. ~Dan Birdwell
with a Michigan site predicting a loss when so many believe it could be a very close game. Yeah Izzo, experience, all that business. Michigan is very well coached, has proven capable of beating them- in Lansing- and UM seems to be grooving better in games over the course of the season. Michigan at home and you call it for MSU?? What an unexpected buzz killer that was for a minute. I predict Wolverines take this game. Go Blue