Very good read.
The Catharsis of Sunday
ca-thar-sis (noun): the purging of emotions, or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.
Yeah, that sounds about right.
The question of whether or not John Beilein and the Michigan basketball program has reached parity with Tom Izzo’s Spartan program has been answered. It’s not a matter of opinion anymore. It’s not subject to the vagaries of partisan fandom that cloud objectivity.
Six of Eight. Six. Of. Eight.
That’s science folks. Pure, simple, unassailable statistics; and it is so, so sweet. As Beilein has built his program from tournament bubble team to conference title contender to conference champion and finally Final Four program, the measurement of Beilein’s Michigan to Izzo’s Spartans has been the theme in local media, with the narrative typically being, “Michigan’s closing the gap, but MSU is still the dominant program”. After Sunday, that narrative is blown to smithereens. Any media talking head trying to advance the notion that Tom Izzo still has the edge over John Beilein is just trolling for internet clicks. Check the math guys.
Six of Eight.
The 21stcentury up to this point has been tough for Michigan fans. We’ve all had to suffer a slow, agonizing decline in many of our beloved sports teams. To add insult to injury, this decline coincided with the rise of the internet and social media, almost as if Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook just so our rivals could chip away at the prestige of our beloved Michigan. Nowhere has this been more pronounced than in basketball, where we not only saw our once proud program fall in the volcanic morass of NCAA sanctions and probation, but saw our hated rival rise in its wake. It chafed our collective ego to see Tom Izzo elevated by the Dick Vitale’s of the world to the status of Big 10 John Wooden, all the while ignoring the subtle fact that the Spartan’s rise correlated almost directly with Michigan’s fall. And while we as Michigan fans suspected that the Spartan’s emperor may have no clothes, such insight was met by derision by the Spartan faithful as sour grapes, boosted by massive winning streaks over half a decade.
Today that narrative is tossed on its head. Heading into Sunday, Spartan fans conviction that Izzo would right the ship in this game was absolute. It was what he and the Spartans had always done in the past. MSU would come into Crisler and beat Michigan and claim the drivers seat to the conference championship and send Wolverine Nation home disappointed, again; because Coach Izzo is the real deal and John Beilein is a just a pretender who runs a gimmick system. News flash to all those self-assured doubters in East Lansing. John Beilein can scout talent. John Beilein can recruit talent. John Beilein can develop talent. John Beilein can game plan, and John Beilein can coach. And he does it as well as, if not better than your false idol.
Sunday is not some isolated moment in the history of this rivalry. It’s the culmination that has been four years in the making. While Beilein has been recruiting players the caliber of Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III, Izzo has been striking out on blue chippers like Jabari Parker. While Beilein has been developing players like Trey Burke into NPOY and NBA Rookie of the Year, Izzo is making excuses for players who have not quite reached the potential that their recruiting hype promised like Keith Appling. Beilein pulls hockey sticks out of the hands of Canadians and turns them into All-American death-dealers; Izzo teaches his players to slap the floor like lower primates to...to what? Prove that they're the alpha males?
Today the internet is abuzz with Spartans who are struggling to deal with their new reality as the 2ndbest basketball program in the state of Michigan. They will challenge the verity of Michigan’s preeminence with the impotent standard of matching Izzo’s Final Four total or winning the National Championship before respect is paid. But that’s not what this article is about. It’s about six of eight, and the inconvenient truth that while John Beilein may not match Tom Izzo’s record in the NCAA Tournament, he has passed MSU, and if he has done that, then maybe Izzo's house wasn’t built out of bricks after all.
Six of Eight. Catharsis, ladies and gentlemen. It’s been a long time coming. Smile and exhale.
Like you, I feel better.
It was nice to see Tim Jr. back and enjoying the success he helped build.
much they care about Beilein and the program.
Great write up. Thanks for posting.
And also Trey Burke's parents. What does it say about the program and Beilein to have parents of a former player, even those that reside in Columbus, drive up for a big game.
Beilein clearly has Izzo's number and the trend is probably going to continue. I don't have the numbers off hand, but his record is probably much like Bo Ryan's except it probably stings much more because it's the chief rival in his own home state.
I'll admit that JB is coaching circles around Tom Izzo with arguably inferior talent.
I do take a little bit of exception when you use the word "program". From a national perspective, programs are built in March and April, and not in January and February. Clearly though, from a state perspective, Michigan has dominated and is the premier program int he state.
That is a discussion I'd be happt to have for another day and I don't want to take away from what your post is about.
Enjoy it. Beilein has owned Izzo these last 4 years and it doesn't seem like it will be letting up anytime soon.
attention the last 3-4 years, has seen this coming. UM has been getting stronger year by year and MSU has been sliding. And the full impact on recruiting hasn't even been felt yet. Today's juniors and seniors grew up watching the MSU dominance, but today's freshmen and sophomores (and younger) will see a different picture.
Sorry, have to be that guy to bring up football. I want UM to be the best at both. Leave them nothing.
Hopefully, with a new OC and maybe a couple suprise players in the front 7 on D UM can make a leap this year.
Bball is clearly on the right path, what's even better is the Belien has done it molding 4 star players instead of just brining in 1 and done talent (which may or may not last).
Yes, for years Michigan owned MSU in football and vice versa in basketball. The world has been turned on its head. It will take everyone some getting used to.
People have been saying this over and over and it bugs me. We have a very good basketball tradition. We used to be better than them in both sports, not just football.
Aside from perhaps Indiana and Ohio State, the Big 10 school with the most prestigious basketball legacy is Michigan. This notion that Michigan State is a historic basketball power really is incorrect.
Michigan State's basketball history of note can be summed up pretty completely thusly:
- Magic Johnson
- Tom Izzo After 1998
That pretty much takes care of it.
purdue and illinois have much better BIG records. they have been consistently better over the long haul. that said, UM has had better peaks (ie final 4 and final game appearances).
...but I am of the age where any dominance in basketball real (for reals) or perceived (aforementioned trolling partisans) still does not spell the humiliating fall from grace in football.
Believe me, I am a pig-in-poop with this run in roundball but it would only salve my universal football angst with a NC.
I know, be grateful for all success, but I'd be lying if I said this is a consolation despite the mirth that being unscandalized and good in basketball brings.