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Rivalry time came at the right time for Michigan-Michigan State

Welcome to the ‘prove it’ point of the season

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Michigan State vs Michigan Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Some people may be missing work on Monday pending the outcome of the Michigan-Michigan State basketball game on Sunday. The tilt will surely be the water-cooler talk between fans of both schools, two passionate fan-bases that are known to get heated and hyped about the rivalry.

It’s been debated all season who is the better team.

Sparty currently sits at 22-5, Michigan is 24-3.

When each team has lost a game this year, the other fan-base has been quick to make fun of the other squad.

MSU has five losses, but hasn’t lost a game by over 10 points. The Wolverines started out 17-0 and their defense has been reliably dominant. Both teams are 13-3 in B1G play.

I could use more numbers and analytics to make a prediction as to who will win the game, and declare which team is better, but those things don’t matter on the eve of a rivalry game, emotion supersedes facts unfortunately. But for Michigan fans, the only number that really matters right now is 3-0 in their last three matchups vs Sparty. For MSU fans, the only number that matters is zero, the amount of losses they have to Michigan this season.

The Spartans will be without their main stars. Nick Ward has a broken hand, Joshua Langford is out for the year, but the coaching of Tom Izzo in a big game could make up for the lack of depth. There are no guarantees, no cake-walks, no narratives that should be favoring one team over the other in a rivalry game like this. Who knows what will happen tomorrow. If anyone says they do, don’t believe them.

We have reached the ‘prove it’ part of the season.

Is Michigan the best team in the Big Ten? Is it Michigan State? They both have a chance to prove it twice over the next two weeks, the first game being At Crisler, the second in East Lansing on March 9th.

The atmosphere should be electric inside the Crisler Center, the type of environment this Michigan team has been accustomed to playing in the last two seasons. It’s the kind of atmosphere that gets the Tournament juices flowing. Yes, there’s Big Ten Tournament seeding on the line (somewhat) in this game, but it’s also a tune-up for the Big Ten and NCAA Tournament. Those factors, combined with it being a rivalry game, means it’s the perfect time for the Spartans and Wolverines to go at it.

All the games count the same they say, but be that as it may the wins and losses in late February are more amplified. You don’t want to get cold this time of year, now is the perfect time to get hot and stay hot through the end of March. It’s getting real, as the kids say.

The basketball season is a long and winding road, and now we’re at the part of the journey that’s the most difficult and most rewarding. There are roadblocks in the way of Michigan’s quest to the end of the Yellow Brick Road, but if they get past these obstacles, the reward will be a season that no Michigan fan will ever forget.