Headlines from the Future

Submitted by Blazefire on February 8th, 2011 at 12:19 PM

I went ahead to the morning of March 5th and returned with this nugget for you all:

March 5th, Ann Arbor, MI –

There is no such thing as a play-in game in conference basketball, though there is a first time for everything. As Michigan prepares to host MSU tonight at Crisler arena, both teams know what’s at stake and both will be playing, essentially, for their tournament lives.

The Michigan wolverines, sitting at 19-11, 9-8 conference, have really taken control of their season, winning six of their last seven, dropping only a home game against conference No. 2, Wisconsin. They have put themselves squarely on the bubble for the NCAA tournament.

The MSU Spartans, meanwhile, have also found a bit of themselves over the past few weeks, finishing the homestretch 4-2, leaving them at 17-12, also with a 9-8 conference record, but with a tougher NC schedule and a better national perspective. This also places them squarely on the NCAA bubble.

Now, the problem. The Big Ten has OSU, Wisconsin, Purdue, Minnesota and Illinois ticketed for the dance already. The conference almost certainly will not get seven berths. And so, with also-rans Northwestern and Penn State on the outside looking in, the picture becomes clear. One of these teams, but not both, is going dancing. Tonight for our viewing pleasure, right here in Ann Arbor, these young men are going to play their guts out to find out which one.

- The Season So Far:

Michigan: For a team that was supposed to be too young to accomplish much, early season non-conference success brought whispers of an NCAA Tourney bid in the making. Then, close losses to No. 2 Kansas and No. 1 OSU in back-to-back games seemed to take it out of the wolverines, and they followed up with clunkers and aimless fluttering through several ugly Big Ten losses. It was not until this young team rallied to beat MSU at the Breslin center, something that had not happened in better than a decade, that they really began to figure out what they were.

Led by veterans Zack Novak and Darius Morris and supported by a talented freshman class including Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jordan Morgan, this team has found a method and a special type of leadership to rise above their youth. Expect a lot of threes from Novak if he can get open, some solid passing from Morris, and some interesting sets devised by head coach John Beilein.

MSU: Michigan State basketball is a program all but synonymous with top flight talent and perpetuated success. Though not lacking in the first, the second has been hard to come by this season. Early season losses were brushed aside as MSU faced some of the best teams in the nation. However, entering conference play, things got no easier for the Spartans. A lack of chemistry has left head coach Tom Izzo scratching his head, and meant the dismissal of one Korie Lucious and a bevy of tough losses.

Still, all that talent has come through when dearly needed, and has given MSU a chance to continue their impressive tournament streak. With no clear leader, it’s hard to know what to expect from the Spartans on any given night, but it’s likely that Tom Izzo will have some clever schemes to continue the minor winning streak that has rescued MSU from utter failure to the least chance of earning a berth.

One of these teams will make the tournament. For the other, it’ll be Big Ten tourney champions or bust. There is enough talent and skill to send the game either way. All that’s left is to play one of the most important games ever in this series. In Ann Arbor, you can cut the tension with a knife.

Comments

dlcase1708

February 8th, 2011 at 12:41 PM ^

I will be there for this game. I was at the Breslin Center to see our victory, and I want to see this season come full-circle. I'm hoping for a tourney bid, but at this point it seems all too likely that we will land in the NIT. I'm not discounting us making a run through the B1G tournament and winning a bid, but I'm proud that our guys have been so close to three great teams in tSIO, Kansas, and Syracuse.  Hopefully next year we can win some of these games.

umichfutball

February 8th, 2011 at 12:56 PM ^

in all honesty great read....a tad optimistic....but great read.  I mean after the way I saw tOSU handle Minny at the barn I whole heartedly believe we can beat them.....although I feel that we have a better chance of beating Wiscy at home than defeating Illinois in Champaign.....we just dont seem to have any luck there

Michigan4Life

February 8th, 2011 at 9:18 PM ^

before they hatch.  20 wins is by no mean a lock to NCAA tourney.  If Michigan did not beat Wisconsin or Illini and achieve 20 wins, they don't have any quality wins and will be a bubble team.  The only thing that will assure Michigan of a NCAA tourney bid is to win the B1G 10 tourney.

As of now, NIT is the likeliest destination for Michigan.

BleedingBlue

February 8th, 2011 at 3:09 PM ^

I love how every time the team wins an unexpected game they are going to be world beaters the rest of the season and when they lose unexpectedly everyone want to fire Beilein.

Just enjoy the ride and watch this fun team grow before our eyes.  If you put too many expectations on them you will be disappointed.  One game at a time.

D.C. Dave

February 8th, 2011 at 7:47 PM ^

... then we should be in regardless. Getting to 9-9 in conference play will be a tall order for our team. I like the direction and I like the young talent, but we've still got a lot of work to finish .500 in a very tough league. We do that, we'll get in and I agree with the poster who said that if we arrive at the MSU game with a 9-8 Big Ten record, we'll be in. Maybe one win in the conference tourney to assure it, but with the expanded field, I say we'd slip in.

The hard part will be getting to 9-9 in the conference. A lot of good basketball will need to be played to reach that level.