By: Jeff Riger
It’s pretty rare in sports that something actually lives up to the hype. But the Big Ten season in college hoops has done just that. At times it hasn’t been pretty and at times it’s been hard to swallow, but so many conference teams beating up on each other on their home courts is just what I expected and the fact that the Big Ten champion could have 5 losses when the season is over doesn’t take away from a conference that should be expected to represent well when the NCAA tournament rolls around in a couple of weeks. I have enjoyed it, even though at times I have vowed never to watch again because of how frustrated I have been.
By now you know the story…
With a Michigan win on Sunday against Indiana in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines will have grabbed a share of the conference title and for the second straight year they will get to hang a banner. Pretty impressive! Right? Well maybe not. Since narrowly beating Purdue on Wednesday night I have heard people say that a share of a conference title doesn’t matter. Fans will yell how the Hoosiers choked when they lost to Ohio State on Tuesday night so even if Michigan wins on Sunday, it really doesn’t mean all that much. Observers will scream how a share of something doesn’t mean anything and if you can’t win it outright then it’s not worth having. Hell, my radio partner believes that even if Michigan were to grab a share of the title that their season has been a disappointment to this point because, well for some reasons that I probably just tuned out.
Nobody wants to give Michigan any credit if they win on Sunday and that’s fine because getting to celebrate a title is credit enough.
But let’s not forget that MSU also has the potential to celebrate. If the Spartans win tonight in East Lansing against Wisconsin and then on Sunday vs. Northwestern, MSU too will be Big Ten champions, that is of course if Michigan beats Indiana. For the second straight year the Spartans will share a portion of the title with Michigan which seems to really bother those green and white people.
I admit that I have not polled every Spartan fan; in fact I’m sure most would be happy with a share of the title. Why wouldn’t you be? MSU has come a long way since the conference season has started and just because they are on a 3 game losing streak and could have potentially won the title outright too, a banner is a banner and years from now nobody will remember that you had to share it with a couple of other teams.
But, there are a select few MSU lovers that refuse to root for their hated rival Michigan on Sunday even if it were to help them because they don’t want to share anything with the Wolverines. It’s true, I swear! I have been told by these Spartans that they would rather not have Michigan State win a share of the title so that Michigan would have nothing at all. They claim it means more to the Wolverines and they want to rob them of that prize.
It means more? How? Isn’t the goal of playing to win the conference first and foremost and then try to get lucky and make a run in March? I’m all for hoping that the other fan base’s feelings get crushed on a weekly basis, but it’s impossible to believe that a title would mean more to one school over the other. I might believe that if Michigan had not won last year.
I thought MSU fans only felt inferior to Michigan in football, but apparently the round ball is now in their heads as well. But it shouldn’t be. MSU’s success over the years despite all the “close the gap” talk is above reproach. From the Final Four’s to the Big Ten titles, Michigan is nowhere near the status that is Spartan basketball. John Beilein is nowhere near the status of Tom Izzo. Crisler Center is nowhere near the environment that the Breslin Center is. I could go on and on. Michigan State basketball has been sensational. I admit it, I’m jealous. I have been jealous for years now.
So when I hear Michigan State people claim they will not root for Michigan come Sunday if it means they too will win a share of the title, I know they are lying or not actual Spartan fans. Why wouldn’t they want another banner that just adds to the mystic of the program? I remember a couple seasons ago when Mark Dantonio would not admit that he would root for Michigan when a Wolverine win could have resulted in a Green and White Big Ten title in football. He probably won a lot of fans over for saying that but I never believed him. He, along with his team would have celebrated that title despite needing the help of Michigan to secure it.
It’s all lies!
Michigan fans will root for Michigan State when it benefits them and Spartans will root for Wolverines as well. I’m a firm believer in the hate in the state and I love the bitterness that comes with the rivalry. But all that goes away when rooting for the other makes you a champion whether it’s a shared title or outright.
So Go Blue, Go Green, share that title and then hopefully kill each other in the Big Ten Tournament! Plus nobody likes Tom Crean and Indiana so they will be fun to root against
If you are a Michigan State fan will you root for Michigan to get you a share of the Big Ten title?