Saturday, February 28, 2009

Illinois Preview and DVD Giveaway

Illinois (23-6 overall, 11-5 in conference)

Why Illinois Could Win:
1) Defense - The Illini currently lead the Big Ten in scoring defense allowing just over 55 points per game within the conference. They are holding their opponents to less than 39% shooting which also leads the Big Ten.
2) Efficient Passing - Illinois tops the conference in both assists and in assist-to-turnover ratio. They are also converting on more than 44% of their shots from the field.
3) Turnovers - The Illini don't really create a lot of turnovers, but they also don't turn the ball over themselves very much. Currently they are third in the league at +1.4. Any team that is has a margin over 0 could be trouble for Michigan State.
4) Home Court Advantage - Last year's victory at Illinois marked Michigan State's first win at Assembly Hall since 2002. Within that streak, we have had some miserable losses including the 2003 70-40 drubbing. I personally hate it when we play there, but I think that Orange Krush is great. If not for anything else, I like the orange shirts. It's better than plain white. The Izzone needs to go back to green by the way. Bring back the 1998 XLs with the huge neck holes for everyone to where.

Keys to a Michigan State Victory:
1) Efficient Offense - The scary part of going over the first Illinois game was how we actually shot okay against them, but yet the game was still close. In the first contest, MSU finished shooting 40% from the field. Tomorrow, we will need a similarly good percentage to assure a victory. We won't be able to rely solely on defense like we have in the past because Illinois has a great defense to. I know it is rocket science, but in order to beat teams, you have to score more points that the other guy. We will probably need to open things up a little bit on the break and if it's not there, we will have to pound it inside.
2) Rebounds - We dominated the first game in this area with a 42-30 edge. They did manage 12 offensive boards, however, and this was when we had a healthy Raymar Morgan.
3) Limit Turnovers - Obviously. The first matchup between these two teams was when our turnover problem first became exposed. We had 18 total and luckily, the Illini had an uncharacteristic 18 themselves. We can't have 18 again.
4) Bench - We will need someone from the bench to step up for us. In the last game, we got a great spark from Marquis Gray with 11 points in 15 minutes. Who is going to step up for us in this game?

Tomorrow's game could be a defining moment for this Michigan State basketball team. They are facing a team that is sitting in second place within the conference and are going into a hostile environment to play for at least a share of the conference title. A win here and the Spartans would create some momentum that could potentially lead to a string of victories and even allow us to sneak into a number one seed if other teams were to lose.

The task at hand, however, is not easy. Traditionally, the Spartans don't play well down at Assembly Hall and the Illini have only lost two games at home so far. They even blew Purdue out earlier in the year in front of the Orange Krush.

For much of the Big Ten season, our offense has not been clicking. We haven't shot the ball very well and in the last four games, we haven't eclipsed the 70-point mark a single time. We also continue to turn the ball over carelessly despite Coach Izzo saying after every game how they are working on it. The failure to improve in these two areas leads me to go with the Illini in this matchup, especially at Assembly Hall.

Illinois over Michigan State 64-51

Other Michigan State Notes
1) Izzo Backtracking On Shaving His Head - Apparently, at the beginning of the season, Izzo said that he would shave his head if we won the Big Ten regular season title in light of the players cutting their own hair. Now he says that he will probably do it if they win it outright. If he was to do this, I would be shocked. It is so Bruce Pearl-ish, but I think it would be funny. He would get a lot of national attention for doing so, which might even help us out a smidge.
2) Durrell Summers Ankle is Fine - He practiced yesterday and should be ready to go for tomorrow.

"Yeah, the door's been opened wider, but I want to win coming through the front door, not the back door."
--Tom Izzo after Purdue's loss to Michigan

Most of us would agree with this statement, but I must caution everyone that we definitely could lose to Indiana. Yeah, Indiana. They are a great rebounding team and in the first half of our game earlier this year, they played us very tough. The game was closer than the 75-57 score indicated. If for nothing else, we should be worried because I will be in attendance at that game. Michigan State athletics is 3-9 in games that I attend in the state of Indiana.

DVD Giveaway
I am giving away a free DVD of "The Greatest Stories of Michigan State Basketball" complements of Genius products to the reader with the closest prediction for Sunday's game at Illinois. Either post a comment to the website or send me an email with your prediction, the margin of victory and the total points. Who ever picks the correct team and has the closest margin of victory will win a free copy. Total points will be used for any tiebreakers.

So far, I don't have that many entries, so your chances of winning are really good.

Tomorrow: Illinois Post Game (probably a few hours after the game)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bitter Sweet

Michigan Beats Purdue 87-78
Michigan was able to do what Michigan State couldn't. They shot the ball really well. DeShawn Simms and Manny Harris had 29 and 27 points respectively and the Wolverines shot 80% in the second half.

I honestly couldn't root for the Wolverines although thier victory really helps us out. With the win, Michigan State essentially can back into at least a share of the conference title if they have to. Hopefully, they take care of business and win out, but I don't think that is going to happen considering how we are playing. I think we will lose at least one of our last three.

DVD Giveaway
I will be giving away a free DVD of "The Greatest Stories of Michigan State Basketball" complements of Genius products to the reader with the closest prediction for Sunday's game at Illinois. Either post a comment to the website or send me an email with who you think will win, the margin of victory, and the total points of the two teams. Who ever picks the correct team and has the closest margin of victory will win a free copy. Total points will be used for any tiebrakers.

Tomorrow - Illinois Preview

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Michigan State Gets Past Iowa 62-54

Michigan State won unimpressively yesterday over a depleted Iowa team. The Spartans were plagued by excessive turnovers and by poor performances from upper classmen. Delvon Roe and Korie Lucious were bright spots however, as the two finished with 16 and 12 points respectively.

Player of the Game: Delvon Roe (16 points, 3 rebounds)

What Went Well for the Spartans
1) Delvon Roe - He was the lone bright spot among the big men. He provided a consistent low post threat and shot the ball very well. He is developing a solid all round game.
2) Korie Luciuos - As I have said before, I love this kid. Not necessarily because of his ability to score, but because of his energy and his great passing ability. Tonight, he placed himself in the spot light by hitting three consecutive three-pointers late in the first half. These really opened things up for the Spartans and could have been the difference in the game. He also played pretty solid defense with his 5-second call being a great example.
3) Defense - Coach Izzo let our team play with a little more intensity on the defensive end and it paid off with numerous Iowa turnovers. We also dominated the boards and held Iowa to just two offensive rebounds. I don't know if I have ever seen that before.

What Didn't Go Well for Michigan State
1) Turnovers - I haven't seen one ounce of improvement in this regard since the Purdue game. You would have thought that the Wisconsin game would have scared our players and forced them to take care of the ball better, but tonight showed that this was not the case. We will not beat Illinois this weekend unless we are more careful with the ball.
2) Offense - We are not getting enough production down low and are still relying on too many outside shots. We shot 18 threes against a team who plays one forward over 6-7. There is no reason for this. After last night, our streak of not getting to 70 points is now 4 games.
3) Goran Suton - He was really that productive. He played 30 minutes and finished with 9 points and 4 rebounds against a smaller, less talented Hawkeye team. I was expecting more from him.
4) Kalin Lucas - Although he had a lot of assists, he still had some dumb turnovers in this game. We also can't have him not scoring until less than 10 minutes left in the game. What happened to him penetrating so well?
5) Marquise Gray - Although I am a big believer in this guy's potential, I am reluctantly giving in by saying that, at this point, I would turn to Green over Gray from here on out. I knew that Gray was going to get more minutes tonight and I was hoping that he would play like he did against Illinois earlier this year. Obviously this did not happen. Instead, he looked lost and had multiple turnovers.

In all honesty, Michigan State should have blown Iowa out by 20+ points. With their injuries and suspensions, the Hawkeyes are extremely depleted and probably are the worst team in the conference at this point. Yet, they were able to hang with us on our home court. That doesn't make sense.

After watching this game, I actually feel worse that I did after we snuck one out against Wisconsin. The Spartans have not shown me anything that indicates they are ready to step their game up during the final three games of the season. We are still turning the ball over, we can't score, and at least in this last game, our best players are not playing well.

Post-Game Quotes
"I would say you'd have to classify us as kind of dysfunctional offensively."
--Tom Izzo

"We would have lost (without them) and we could have anyway."
--Tom Izzo regarding the play of our freshmen

Other Game Notes
1) Did the Izzone Boo Roe After a Missed FT? - I had a similar reaction to Izzo. I didn't know if they were booing him, or if they were making noise about another play or something. I am hoping it was the later.
2) Travis Walton Featured on Big Ten Tonight - I thought this was an excellent piece on T Walt. It showed his pride in Michigan State and demonstrated his strong leadership qualities.
3) Dan Dakich on Big Ten Tonight - I liked his presence on the show. It's funny how he criticized Michigan State for not playing well, but earlier in the year when I hinted at Izzo being overrated nationally on his Indianapolis radio show, he scoffed at me.
4) "Spartan Roe-mance" - Was a great lead-in to the BTT. Props to them.

That's Ridiculous
1) USC Punter Stronger than OL, Faster than LBs at Combine - An Incredible story in the LA times about USC's punter David Buehler at the NFL combine can be found here. According to, Buehler put up 225lbs 25 times which was more reps than fellow teammate Ray Maualuga and projected 1st-round offensive lineman Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher. He also ran the 40 with unofficial times of of 4.56 and 4.63 seconds, which were faster than USC linebackers Brian Cushing (4.74) and Clay Matthews (4.67). There is no mention in the article as to whether or not this guy can actually punt.

Tomorrow - More Iowa post-game and details about the DVD giveaway.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Iowa Preview #2

Iowa (14-13 overall, 4-10 in conference)

Why Iowa Could Win:
1) Good 3-Pt Shooting - The Hawkeyes have continued to rely on their outside shooting. Nearly 40% of their offense this year has come from 3-pointers. Freshman start Matt Gatens leads them with a 38% conversion rate from behind the arc. He was held in check during the last matchup and finished 3-8 from distance with 13 points.
2) Free Throw Shooting - This is one of the few bright spots on this Iowa team. Within Big Ten play, the Hawkeyes have hit over 74% of their free throws. If it is a close game, this could make a difference.
3) Good Coaching - Despite their poor conference record, Todd Lickliter is doing a great job with this team. Just before the conference started, he lost his second leading scorer, Anthony Tucker, to academic inelgibility and his best rebounder, Cyrus Tate, to injury. He has still managed wins over Wisconsin and Michigan during this time. In all honesty, this is one of the most depleted teams that I have ever seen in the Big Ten and for them to have one four games so far is a major accomplishment.
4) Stamina - I just had to throw this in because they had four players play all of regulation and overtime against Michigan on Sunday. I have never seen that before. Four guys with fourty-five minutes? That has to be some kind of record.

Keys to a Michigan State Victory:
1) Score Early - I think it is important to jump ahead early against a depleted team like Iowa. We can't afford to let them hang around and think that they can win this game. The longer the game stays close, the more confidence that they will have.
2) Rebounding - The Hawkeyes surprisingly did a good job against Michigan State on the glass in their last matchup. The Spartans only grabbed 8 more rebounds than Iowa. Michigan State will need to continue their dominence on the boards.
3) Pound It Down Low - I didn't think that we exploited Iowa's lack of size very well in the first meeting. Cyrus Tate is their most dominate low post presence, but he has played very sparingly after he hurt his ankle. I think we really need to establish our bigs down on the block. Suton should be a big matchup problem for the Iowa defense. I also think that Gray would be a good option in this game.
4) Limit Turnovers - I should just say this for every game. We will have a hard time beating any team if we don't take care of the ball.
5) Push the Ball - Look for the Spartans to really dictate the tempo of this game. Iowa isn't nearly as athletic as we are.

As appealing as it sounds, I do not think that this will be a trap game for Michigan State. I do not see any possible way that Iowa could manage to beat Michigan State at home with their limited roster. It would take 20+ turnovers from Michigan State and a very strong individual performance from Matt Gatens for the Hawkeyes to get the win.

In the end, Michigan State stays focused and eclipses 70 points for the first time in their last three games.

Michigan State over Iowa 74-59.

"We have to improve offensively and we have to quit turning the ball over."
--Tom Izzo

"I thought he was a stretch at Penn State. Boy, was I wrong."
--Tom Izzo on the recruitment of Jamaal Cornley. Link to the article here.

Other Michigan State Notes
1) Izzo Ranked Sixth Best College Basketball Coach by Forbes - The magazine used a number of criteria, but essentially it goes back four years and takes into account Final Four appearances, championships, recruiting success, and graduation rates. Roy Williams was number one, followed by Bill Self, Ben Howland, Coach K, and Billy Donovan. In my own, unresearched poll, I put Coach K as number one, although I despise him. You can find the story here.
2) Jim Boylen Thriving at Utah - Link to article here. The Utes are winning their conference and are 19-7 overall.
3) Izzo's Name Still Being Mentioned in Arizona - Link is here. I can't see it happening. I see Izzo pulling a Barry Sanders some day and abruptly retiring, but not leaving to go to another university.

Free MSU DVD Giveaway
Keep checking back on the blog as I will be giving out DVDs of "Greatest Stories of Michigan State Basketball." This was featured earlier in the year on the Big Ten Network. I plan on having a contest of predicting the result and score of the Illinois game on Saturday.

That's Ridiculous
Just in case you didn't check out the link from yesterday:

Tomorrow: Iowa Post Game.

Free DVD Giveaway and Michigan State Notes

Michigan State Notes
1) Tom Herzog Featured in LSJ - The arcitle can be found here. The only thing more ridiculous than him starting the Wisconsin game is this article. Herzog reports eating 5000 calories and that his ability to gain weight and play well is due to an anxiety disorder. If he sees more playing time, I will have an anxiety disorder.
2) Rankings - Michigan State only slipped to #9 in both polls. I thought they would have slid further, but I'll take it.
3) Joe Lunardi Has Michigan State as #3 Seed in the South - Can be found in his latest bracketology. That would be a disappointment.

Free MSU DVD Giveaway
Keep checking back on the blog as I will be giving out DVDs of "Greatest Stories of Michigan State Basketball." This was featured earlier in the year on the Big Ten Network. I plan on having a contest of predicting the result and score of the Illinois game on Saturday.

That's Ridiculous
1) Lady's Weave Saved Her Life - Refer to the this link. I like the following quote: "I invested a lot of money in that weave and it saved my life."

Tomorrow - Iowa Preview #2

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Michigan State Outlasts Wisconsin 61-50

So, I have to be honest, I didn't see us coming back in this game. Halfway through the second half, I could help but think to myself "Michigan State does this every year." We choke. We don't live up to expectations. We give up two game leads in the Big Ten with only 6 games remaining.

As you know, however, we didn't choke against Wisconsin. Due to a combination of good Spartan defense and a long Badger offensive drought, we were able to rally after being down 12 with 12 minutes left and win convincingly by 11.

Player of the Game: Goran Suton 16 points and 10 rebounds

What Went Well for the Spartans
1) Points in the Paint - We dominated this area of the game with a 32-16 advantage. Goran Suton led the way with 16 points, but I thought Delvon Roe looked very impressive. Roe played strong down low and gave us good looks at the basket. He would have even had a bigger impact if he could hit his free throws.
2) Shooting - Michigan State finished shooting over 47%. Their 52% second half was very impressive and reflects their emphasis in getting the ball down low. It should be pointed out that we finished 2-9 from the three-point line, but the two makes could not have been bigger. How many of you out there wanted Allen to chuck up that three at the end? I have a world of confidence in his shooting ability and I still cringed.
3) Defense - Contrary to our Wisconsin emailer below, I think the difference in this game was when we decided to go to playing full court defense. For some reason, this seemed to fluster Wisconsin and even produced a few turnovers on their part. Normally, our "press" doesn't do anything to our opponents since essentially we just shadow their players up the court with very little pressure. In this game, however, it worked. In the future, I hope Izzo lets our athletes play all out, Chris Kramer style.
4) Crowd - If we could only have the 1979 team in the house every day. Maybe it was them, or maybe it was just because we were playing Wisconsin, but the Izzone was feeling it. They should be that loud every game no matter who we are playing.

What Didn't Go Well for Michigan State
1) Turnovers - When people think of Tom Izzo led teams, I think people should associate the words "turnover prone" just as quickly as they do "good rebounding." I don't know what the answer is on this. I think that Lucas has good ball handling ability, but even he still turns it over. Some of it may be our structured offense and its lack of creativity.
2)Tom Herzog Starting - This is ridiculous. You can't start a guy against Wisconsin because he plays hard and didn't get in against Purdue during a blowout. I like Izzo's loyalty, but geez, mix Herzog in at an opportune time during the game. Not at the start of the game against our biggest rival and in front of the 1979 team. Tom, you do know that Herzog is in the Honor's College don't you?
3) Durrell Summers - He finished with 5 points and one rebound in 24 minutes. Once again, we need more from him. I'll spare Chris Allen just because he had that dagger at the end. He didn't play very well either.

While it is nice to see that the sky is not falling, I take little comfort in this win. We were a few Wisconsin baskets away from seeing our Big Ten championship go down the drain. Looking forward, we have to find a way to take care of the ball and how to score effectively. Our defense is solid, but it can only do so much unless we find ways to put the ball in the hoop.

Other Game Notes
1) Lucas Steal and Lay-up Familiar? - Was the Kalin Lucas steal and subsequent lay-up with 25 seconds left very similar to the Alando Tucker dunk back in 2003? Like Tucker's team, the Spartans were up by nine and the victory was sealed. Shouldn't Lucas have pulled the ball out and ran the clock out? I personally would have thrown it down myself, but I also wouldn't have bitched about Tucker's dunk.
2) Lucas Had Rare Dunk - I probably have overlooked it, but I can't remember Lucas every slamming one home before this game. It happened early in the second half. It was a simple one handed jam on a break.
3) Sutton Reamed for Shooting a Three - Did you see Izzo sit him down in the second half and get right in his face. I could read his lips and he said, "No threes. You need to get your ass inside." While I agree with him needing to be a force down low, you can't give him the green light to shoot from the perimeter all season long and then pull him out when he doesn't convert from distance.
4) Krabbenhoft Gettin' Cute - I loved seeing the bounce it off the guy on the inbounds play not work.

"I thought it was going to be our day when I started Herzog, and I did that because I didn't put him in at Purdue when I put everyone else in. The kid has worked so hard, and has been in here everyday so I apologized to him and told him I was going to start him the next game."
--Tom Izzo

So Coach, you are telling me that because he didn't get to play one minute in Purdue like all of the other scrubs, he gets to start and play three minutes against the badgers? That doesn't make any sense. If you told me that you liked the way he played in the Big Ten Tournament last year against Wisconsin, I would have given you a break. If you remember, everyone got in foul trouble forcing Izzo to go to Herzog. He played great then. Well, considering.....

"Goran has to bring it every minute of every game and as happy as I am for him, don't think he's off the hook. He has skills and abilities to do a lot of things, and so how I am going to get that out of him in the next three weeks because that kid could be a very good player."
--Tom Izzo

It's a run-on sentence, but I like it. Feed the big man. Tell him to stop labeling other teams as being dirty.

"Jud looks like he needs a whiskey on the rocks."
--My wife in reference to a shot of Jud sitting in his suite.

He probably was pissed that he had to watch this game.


I am Wisconsin fan and I can appreciate what Michigan State's success on the national stage has done for the Big Ten. I also respect the athleticism of State's players year after year. Most of the aspects of the Spartan program that I respect. However, I have no respect for how Tom Izzo acts on the sideline. Bo does his share of lobbying the officials, but he recognizes when a legitimate foul was called against his team. By the way Izzo reacts, you would think that his team never fouls (which makes you wonder why else he recruited Al Anagonye). It's just childish and disrespectful to the game. Also, obviously Wisconsin didn't quite have it today and didn't seem to think they needed to score in the second half to win, but it's too bad the momentum changing play of the game came after a no-call on a double dribble by Suton.

Kirke, Somewhere in Wisconsin

First of all, thanks for visiting the blog. Let me respond to this with a few different points.
1) It's classy to recognize Michigan State's accomplishments on a national level. Unfortunately, they haven't translated to success in the Big Ten in recent years. Wisconsin takes that honor, even with less touted players.
2) Most realistic Michigan State fans recognize Izzo as a whiner. In fact, I just told a buddy today that Izzo is the kind of coach that you love to have (yeah, even I appreciate Izzo), but if he is on another team, you hate him. His red-ass face and flailing arms even annoy me and I'm one of the biggest MSU fans around. But, I have to say, most of the time, I agree with him on the calls he is arguing. I don't think that he acts like that just because he wants to. For instance, today, I found him getting upset numerous times at the refs, not for the actual fouls that they called, but when they called them. There were a few obvious fouls where it seemed like the officials half-swallowed their whistles making me think they were going to let it go, but then only to finally call the foul. That really pissed me and Izzo off.
3) Most Spartans wish we still had Al Anagonye. Ever since he left, we have lacked toughness.
4) I know what play you are talking about with Suton, but I disagree with you on a couple of points. First of all, I don't think that it was the momentum changer. As I mentioned above, I thought it was the full court press. You could also argue it was Wisconsin's inability to hit shots. Secondly, I think that the ball was actually hit out of Suton's hands allowing him to take another dribble before putting the shot up. I thought it looked funny initially, but on the replay, that's how it appeared to me. I did not hear what the announcers had to say about it.

Tomorrow - I'll try to get to some quick hits, but it may have to wait until Tuesday.

Wisconsin Preview

The Spartans look to bounce back into the win column today as they take on Wisconsin in the Breslin Center. Many argue that Wisconsin is our biggest conference rival, but it is hard to call it a rivalry since we have lost 11 of our last 14 against them. Michigan State has had success lately, however, having won their last three matchups in East Lansing.

Wisconsin (17-9 Overall, 8-6 in the Big Ten)

Why Wisconsin Could Win
1) Ball Handling - The Badgers are currently fourth in the country in regards to turnovers averaging only 9 per game within the conference. Only Northwestern has a better turnover margin at +5 within the Big Ten, while Wisconsin is +2. If they can get Michigan State to play sloppy, it will be an easy Wisconsin victory.
2) Rebounding - Wisconsin is second behind the Spartans in rebounding. Like Purdue, they are especially good at limiting offensive rebounds. This will be key as Michigan State's best offense so far this year has been an offensive rebound.
3) Balanced Attack - Unlike Big Ten team we have faced so far this year, Wisconsin is extremely balanced. They rank within the top 5 in three-quarters of all team stats. They are second in scoring defense, turnover margin, free throws, rebounding margin, third in FG%, and assist-to-turnover ratio and fourth in scoring offense, and 3-pt % defense. Surprisingly, this Wisconsin team doesn't get many steals or block very many shots.
4) Bo Ryan - This guy has owned Michigan State since coming to the conference. He is 11-3 against the Spartans with all three losses occurring at the Breslin Center. Although I am unable to pinpoint why he is so successful against us, he obviously knows something that Izzo doesn't. You don't have less talented teams and consistently beat Michigan State without being a good coach. Refer to this article by the Daily Gopher illustrating how Bo Ryan has done more with less over the past 10 years than any other coach in the conference. Would you believe that he has only had 11 top 100 recruits since 1998? Five of these guys are on this year's team! That is amazing.

My Keys to a Spartan Victory
1) Run an Effective Offense - In the last two games, we have tried to establish an inside presence early. We had success against Michigan, but our guards were not able to effectively feed the post against Purdue. Hopefully, we have worked on this since then. In order to win, I we must outscore Wisconsin in the paint. We can't rely on outside shooting to carry us. That includes shots one foot within the three-point line.
2) Limit Turnovers - This should probably be priority number one. If we turn the ball over, we are going to lose, especially knowing how good Wisconsin takes care of the rock. Hopefully, we have gotten the turnover bug out of our systems.
3) X-Factor(s) - We need Durrell Summers or Chris Allen to step up. End of story.
4) Free Throws - Like all Wisconsin/MSU games, I am expecting a lot of fouling. Wisconsin shoots a high percentage from the line so we will have to convert a high percentage of our own shots to win.
5) Bounce Back - The Spartans have rebounded from their four losses brilliantly so far this year. In those games, the Spartans are averaging 80 points per game and only giving up 69. Durrell Summers is also averaging 15.5 points in games after a loss.

That's Ridiculous
1) Tom Izzo Whining - I hate to do this to my own team, but today's article in the Free Press (here) is extremely untimely. While I appreciate the insight on the rivalry between both Michigan State and Wisconsin and between the coaches, the timing and manner of which he did it, was inappropriate. In the article, Izzo confirms what many already perceive about him already; that he is a whiner. His quotes are laced with the emotion of an eight-year old who just can't stand the fact that another coach in the conference seems to have his number. Here are all of Tom Izzo's quotes from the article:

  • "It really started with the dunk in the last 10 seconds of a game -- when you see every other Big Ten team holds it up and that didn't happen, that ticked me off. I said something about it, so that made every Wisconsin fan mad at me and every Michigan State fan mad at him. I brought it up and he acted like it was no big deal. Well, you know what? I didn't like that and I may not for the rest of my life.

  • "I don't want you to make a big deal about it, but he never ever said a word about it. Even when people said, 'Did he call and apologize? Did he do this and that?' No. Well ... we didn't do that when we beat them nine times in a row or 11 times in a row. And you know what? He beat us in the one Big Ten championship year, and that hurts, but we got Wisconsin in the Final Four and that was for a national championship."

  • "It bothers me, but I don't play the game. Do I sit there and say it doesn't bother me? No, of course it bothers me. But all it makes me do is work to do what I can do better and try to prepare them better, and eventually the players play the game.
  • "We're not hanging out, but I'm not enemies with Bo. We're on a board together, and I get along with Bo."

I remember the dunk in 2003, and personally, I think it was blown way out of proportion. Like most of the subsequent matchups, the bigger story was how we were favored to win and lost. I believe that Alando Tucker's dunk on that day rattled us, and by the statements that Izzo made just yesterday, we apparently still haven't recovered from it. Instead of approaching this as just another game, Michigan State has put too much emphasis on beating the Badgers and has since lost 11 of their last 14 against them. Since that day, In order for this trend to change, we need to forget about the past and play in the now.
2) Unfurled 2004 Big Ten Banner Happened Before - Everyone knows about the incident, but most are unaware that this had happened before. In 1998, I was in the Izzone on Senior night as we played Purdue in the final game of the regular season. The Spartans had already clinched a share of the Big Ten title with Illinois, so someone had the brilliant idea to hang the banner before the game. The result was Purdue upsetting us in overtime and we lost the outright title. Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it.
3) "Why Does Bo Ryan Suck So Much?" - During an informal Q&A session during the Big Ten Tournament pep rally in Indianapolis last year, some guy asked Tom Izzo this question in front of approximately 500 alumni. Izzo respectfully declined to answer it. That would have been a better time to tell us all about our hatred of Wisconsin instead of the day of a game.

It's hard to predict a game after a loss. For some reason, when we lose, it always feels like the sky is falling. Today, Michigan State has all the motivation that it needs to perform well. They will want to play well for the 1979 championship team that will be in attendance and they want to stay one game up on Purdue for the conference championship. I'm sure that they want to win one for their coach also, but again, this should be the last thing on their mind.

Wisconsin is not as talented as Michigan State. The Spartans have the personnel to dictate a faster tempo, dominate on the offensive glass, and force the Badgers into poor shots. The difference will be on the sidelines and which coach will call a better game. While Bo Ryan doesn't have the horses that Michigan State does, it hasn't ever stopped him in the past.

My head says that momentum will get the best of the Spartans, but my heart says that they will not let this Big Ten Championship slip through their fingers, especially in front of Magic and company.

Michigan State over Wisconsin 63-60

Pregame Quotes
"I don't like Wisconsin. That's no secret. I don't think they like us, either. They're dirty, they push, they hold. Actually, I like Michigan more than I like them. That's pretty bad."
--Goran Suton

Again, just play the game G. We push. We hold. "It's the Big [Ten]. This ain't intramurals!"

Tomorrow - Wisconsin Post Game