Breaking down the Michigan, Michigan State basketball rivalry

Alex Jewell, Staff Writer

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It’s one of the fiercest in rivalries in all of college basketball: two elite programs both in the Big Ten conference the Michigan State Spartans and the Michigan Wolverines. Both teams have top-notch coaches and could win the National Championship this year. MSU head coach Tom Izzo and Michigan head coach John Beilein have great respect for each other and the rivalry. But who has the edge?

MSU and Michigan have played each other a total of 182 times with Michigan leading the series 93-82. In this year’s first meeting between the schools, the Spartans took the win on the road 70-77. MSU point guard Cassius Winston led the team in scoring, playing all 40 minutes with 27 points, 2 rebounds, and 8 assists.

This was a huge win for MSU; not only did they end a 3 game losing streak against the Wolverines, but they won this game on the road and shorthanded -Center Nick Ward and Guard Joshua Langford both out with injuries. Both were top scorers for MSU and although huge losses, they unexpectedly pulled out a win. Tom Izzo simply outcoached John Beilein. With Nick Ward ruled out a week before the game, Izzo made the decision to name his junior star point guard Cassius Winston a captain. This was a risky move by Izzo, as Winston has struggled against his bitter rival point guard Zaiver Simpson. Over the past 3 meetings, Zaiver Simpson has shut down Winston. However, something changed this time around, as Izzo told him he would play all 40 minutes. Izzo challenged Winston with some words of encouragement prior to the game:

“This is what an All American does, take over the game.”

Winston responded and did, in fact, take over the game.  The Wolverines will have a chance to get revenge in East Lansing on March 9th.

St Joe High School truly is a house divided when it comes to MSU and U of M. A survey showed that the number of MSU fans and U of M fans are almost dead even, with Michigan at a slight advantage. These two schools are on the minds of a lot of high school players minds when they’re looking to pursue their career. Varsity basketball coach Gregg Schafer gives a lot of advice for outgoing seniors wanting to pursue basketball.

“We find out where the student has interest then we contact that college’s coach and we send them stats, open up dialogue for that student and the coach,” he said.

Both Izzo and  Beilein have come to St Joe, “Izzo came to watch an advanced strength and conditioning basketball workout. Coach Beilein came to watch a practice and a game,” Coach Schaffer said.

So who has the edge?  In Coach Schaffer’s mind, they’re even.

“Before coach Beilein came to Michigan it was all MSU but now Beilein has really changed the game and has made Michigan into a very good program, so I think it’s fair to say that both programs are dead even,” he said.

Whether you cheer for the Spartans or the Wolverines, there is no concrete evidence that proves one team is superior to the other. You can argue and debate all you want, but until something changes or a coach retires the Spartans and Wolverines will be even in this historic rivalry.