By: Jeff Riger
So here it is…
I was wrong…again!
I have rooted for Michigan basketball my entire life, even when they were pathetic. For some reason I could not turn away. Believe me; I tried. So when Michigan started to turn things around I was ecstatic considering where the program was. It used to believe Wolverine hoops didn’t stand a chance vs. MSU however after they beat them 6 of the last 8 and swept the season series this year; I started to get a bit cocky. I thought I had every right to be.
If that makes me a Wal-Mart Wolverine so be it. I’m good with that. In fact I would like to be the president of the Wal-Mart’s if such a position actually existed. I believe I would be good for the people.
Anyway, after Michigan beat Michigan State the first time this season at the Breslin Center, Spartan nation started to whine about injuries. MSU was missing Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson and because of that it was almost like Spartan fans believed the loss didn’t even count. They refused to give Michigan any credit at all.
Then the second meeting of the season came around at the Crisler Center where Michigan beat Michigan State by 9 points but once again the Spartans were hampered by injuries. Payne was back but Dawson wasn’t and Keith Appling was playing injured and once again Spartan fans made excuses.
I thought it was really bad form!
So over the weekend when the Spartans and Wolverines were set to meet in the Big Ten Tournament Championship game, I was elated. Once and for all, Michigan had a chance to prove they were not only the better team this season, but the better team for pretty much the last half decade. If the Wolverines could beat the Spartans a third time; something that is very difficult to do no matter what teams are playing, MSU fans would have no more excuses. You see Michigan State was finally healthy.
Of course there was another side to things.
MSU wanted to play Michigan more than anything. They wanted redemption. They were eager to stop the constant chatter that the Wolverines not only have closed that proverbial gap with the Spartans but have also leapt ahead of them.
And, they did just that…
MSU beat Michigan by 14 points and dominated in every facet of the game. The Spartans were tougher, more physical and flat out way better than the Wolverines. MSU grabbed more boards, shared the ball much better and held Michigan to just 31.5% shooting from the field. They smacked Michigan right in the face over and over again. It looked like a Michigan-Michigan State game from 1997 to 2010; very one sided. The only thing MSU didn’t do well on Sunday was shoot 3 pointers; they were just 2 of 17. Could you imagine what a blowout it would have been if a couple more of those shots would have went down?
If you’re a Michigan basketball fan, Sunday in Indy was just brutal. MSU exposed Michigan while reminding everybody at the same time that when healthy the Spartans could be the best team in the country.
So before the NCAA tournament starts, I wanted to take the time to officially admit that I was wrong to Spartans and Wolverine followers alike. There is no doubt, that MSU, when healthy is the better team. They proved that Sunday in Indy and there is a great chance that they’ll be in Texas for the Final Four as well.
So there you go… I was wrong and you Spartans were right. But you didn’t have to whine about it? After all, Michigan was forced to play without Mitch McGary pretty much the entire season and Wolverine fans didn’t blame that injury when they lost to Wisconsin, Iowa and Indiana. The excuses got annoying even if it was justified.
MSU might have dismantled Michigan on Sunday to win the Big Ten Tournament Championship but Michigan won the regular season title which is much more impressive. Plus they did it without complaining which is nice. Michigan also still has a chance to go further in March than MSU which should shut Spartan fans up until football season. Unless they suffer another injury that is, which means we’ll all hear about it much, much sooner.
Of course if MSU goes further, I’ll make sure to write another blog stating that I’m wrong once again. Admitting I’m wrong is something I seem to do very well.
Enjoy March people; this is the best time of the year!