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Column: Ready or not, here comes Michigan State with another big chance for Michigan

Tuesday night against Purdue by no means ended in the Wolverines favor, but sulking over that loss will do no good. Beat MSU, that loss will be forgotten. It’s as simple as that.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

(This is an opinion piece by Maize n Brew’s Andrew McDonald)

January or not, there was no hiding that when this week began it would be the toughest stretch of back-to-back games Michigan would face in the regular season.

When No. 5 Purdue rolled into Ann Arbor on Tuesday night for a late night game, you could feel a sense of urgency from the crowd. It was all over social media leading up to the game.

U-M could see it, there was nowhere to hide. They could either respond with an energizing effort, or collapse like they did against North Carolina, the only ranked opponent they played up to the game against Purdue.

The Wolverines’ response? It brought enough electricity to the Crisler Center to keep the lights on themselves.

After falling behind early, Michigan responded with a few runs to get back within striking distance, trailing 39-32 at halftime.

In the second half, PU started by giving U-M more punches to the gut, but the Wolverines stood tall and got back within single digits again.

Then when the game was starting to get late, Zavier Simpson put on a show. The sophomore guard hit back-to-back 3-pointers and gave his team their first lead of the game with 4:40 to play. Momentarily.

Carsen Edwards had every answer, striking right back with a pair of buckets and kept PU in the game. Then Vince Edwards drilled a triple to tie the game at 69 with just over two minutes to play.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan would never score again. There were questionable calls. Some favored the Boilermakers more than they probably should have.

Too bad. It’s over now.

That’s what is beautiful about the game of college basketball. When you lose a game that really would’ve boosted an NCAA Tournament resume, there is usually another tough test right around the corner.

In this case, Michigan State awaits right next door.

The Spartans are clearly the most talented team in the Big Ten, if not the country, and they haven’t been playing their best basketball of late, with a loss to Ohio State and Rutgers taking them to overtime at home.

That won’t make it any easier on U-M, in fact it probably just makes it worse.

Nick Ward and Jaren Jackson are a force inside, and Jackson can even step outside and knock down shots from time-to-time. Miles Bridges might be a top lottery pick in this upcoming NBA Draft. Cassius Winston can knock down shots from anywhere on the floor. The Spartans top reserves (Matt McQuaid, Tum Tum Narin, Kenny Goins and Gavin Schilling) could all probably start on other teams in the conference.

So get over it.

The call didn’t go the Wolverines’ way. They lost a one-point game to a top-five team that really could’ve already made this week a win. It was a mentally draining loss.

Win on Saturday inside the Breslin Center and everyone will forget that game was even played.

It is much easier said than done. MSU is 11-0 at home and has scored over 100 points there four times this season. With the recent struggles they’ve had, it is obvious blowing out their biggest rival would make a statement and the last two games would fall under the surface.

U-M is in the perfect role to prevent that while grabbing a monumental win for their tournament record.

Yes, the Purdue loss is one the Wolverines really wanted to win and it would’ve made this game less essential to win for post season aspirations.

For this team that is still trying to figure itself out, they now have the chance to wash away the finish they had on Tuesday with a victory on the road against another top-five team.

The cards are all in play for this week to still be a success, but this time U-M needs to beat the dealer. Not wait for the bust card to come out and save them.

Forget and move on. That’s what this team needs more than anything right now. Because ready or not, MSU is waiting. It’s on no one else besides Michigan to answer and learn from Purdue. And maybe return home with a win.