The week began with MSU's incredible victory over Georgia in the Outback Bowl. The very next day, the Spartan basketball team almost matched the football team's flare for the dramatic by defeating Wisconsin on overtime, 63-60. And yesterday, the MSU women's basketball team beat arch-rival Michigan, 60-55.
Back to the MSU/Wisconsin game. Unless you've been living in a cave, or aren't an MSU sports fan, you know that it appeared Wisconsin had tied the game 63-63 with a last-second desperation three. Watching the end of the game on TV, my immediate (enraged) thought was something along these lines, "Here we go again. Stinkin' Badgers get lucky and pull a game out of their ass that they had no business winning. When the hell are we ever going to beat those guys at their place?" Fortunately, the final shot was close enough to the buzzer that the officiating crew reviewed it--and replays proved that the shot came after time had run out. Final decision: the shot didn't count and the Spartans had indeed won at the Kohl Center for the first time since 2001. Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan went ballistic upon hearing the bad news, and the sight of the "demonic used-car salesman" losing his mind was truly priceless. If anyone needs an occasional dose of humility, it's that guy.
It's difficult to believe that there was once a time when I was, at best, indifferent towards the University of Wisconsin. Back in the '70s, '80s, and '90s, Wisconsin's sports teams were mediocre at best, and often just plain terrible. I even once owned a Wisconsin sweatshirt that I acquired when I traveled with my friend Dave to Milwaukee during Spring break 1987. I recall a bad Badgers football team coming to Spartan Stadium in 1988, and just for the fun of it, I wore my Wisconsin sweatshirt to the game and pretended to be a Wisconsin fan. (Those are kind of silly things one does as a college student). It hardly mattered because Wisconsin was woeful and had no chance against MSU--the Spartans crushed the Badgers, 36-0.
Even when Wisconsin's football team improved in the 1990s under Barry Alvarez, I didn't mind seeing the Badgers succeed, and when Dick Bennett and Wisconsin made their Final Four run in 2000, I heartily rooted for them until they ran into the Spartans. But everything changed with the two-headed monster of Bo Ryan/Bret Bielema. These coaches have been successful, but lack class. They exude arrogance, and much, but certainly not all, of the Wisconsin fan base seem to reflect this pompous attitude.
But it's not just that: I can't stand Wisconsin's style of basketball...if it can even be called a "style". Bo Ryan has set the game of basketball back at least 50 years. It's a slow, walk-it-up-the-floor, jump shoot or drive-and-flop "style" of hoops that resembles something from the peach basket era. I suppose James Naismith might appreciate it, but I despise it.
So, in conclusion, I now hate Wisconsin and they have almost reached Michigan's exulted status as most despised rival.