Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spartans and Wolverines for all the marbles

For the first time in the history of the Big Ten basketball tournament, Michigan State and Michigan will play a game. (Considering this is the 18th year of the tournament, this is quite amazing).  It's not just any ordinary game though, it's the championship game. It's somehow appropriate that when the two rivals finally meet in this tournament after so many years, it would be in the biggest game with the tournament championship at stake.

I don't know if my heart can take it. I many need heavy sedation to survive this game. But if MSU can find a way to win this game, the victory will certainly rank up there with the Big Ten football championship game (but well below the Rose Bowl) as my MSU sports highlight of 2013-2014.

Earlier in the season, probably after the second loss to Michigan, I publicly hoped for a third shot at Michigan, and now--amazingly--I received my wish. The Spartans are healthy and played two of their best games of the season against Northwestern and Wisconsin. This is the matchup I wished for and now it has come to pass. If the Spartans lose to Michigan again, no excuses offered.

Michigan has squeaked by Illinois and Ohio State. Their victories appear on the surface to be unimpressive, in truth the Wolverines deserve tremendous credit for making the important plays in "winning time," i.e. the last few minutes of the game. I'm concerned about Michigan's ability to put adversity behind them and close out games in the waning moments.

I don't like Michigan (if you hadn't already figured that out), but one can't help but be impressed with how every player on the Wolverine team knows his role and they fulfill those roles to perfection. (I respect John Beilein and what he's done at Michigan, quite frankly it's most of Michigan's fanbase that I can live without).

I don't remember a Michigan State game with such "high risk/high reward," at least from a fan's perspective. Win today, and I'm in heaven. There is a sense of vindication, and I can imagine myself listening to WTKA (the Ann Arbor sports talk radio station) tomorrow for a healthy dose of schadenfreude. On the other hand, lose and it's three straight defeats to Michigan and seven of the last nine. Depression will set in and I will need to either go into hiding or take up a few other hobbies in lieu of college basketball fandom. (I'm only being slightly tongue-in-cheek).

In any event, I believe I may need copious amounts of happy drugs and/or adult libations in order to make it through today's game.

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