Quantcast 2011 Michigan Wolverines Basketball: Michigan vs Michigan State

Michigan Wolverines Basketball 2011

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Michigan Wolverines vs Michigan State Spartans Basketball Recap

Michigan 70, Michigan State 63

A resurgent team and its coach are making a Beilein for the NCAA Tournament.

The Michigan Wolverines have certainly not punched a ticket or locked down a certified spot in the field of 68, but they’re definitely on the doorstep after knocking off the single most disappointing team in college basketball on Saturday afternoon.

Yes, a fascinating clash unfolded between an A-grade overachiever and a surprising underachiever at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan. One team that wasn’t expected to make the NCAAs before the season started is now very much in the conversation for an at-large bid to the Dance. The other team involved in this contest was expected to reach its third consecutive Final Four, but has instead crashed in a manner nobody anticipated.

Michigan Wolverines Apparel It truly has been a tale of two different seasons for Michigan and its in-state rival, the Michigan State Spartans. The Wolverines stood off the radar back in November and appeared dead in the water in late January after losing six straight games and seven of eight. Michigan missed the postseason in its entirety last year and inspired very little confidence when this campaign kicked off. Michigan State, on the other hand, began the season in the top five and – with multiple core members of last year’s Final Four team returning – a combination of proven talent and legitimate experience. Three months ago, not a single soul would have believed that these teams would (or could) stand on relatively equal footing on the first weekend of March. Yet, after Michigan’s disposal of Sparty in a classic bubble game, that’s pretty much the situation facing these two ballclubs, whose shared location in the middle of the Big Ten standings could not be more different. For Michigan, a 9-9 mark in the Big Ten is cause for considerable rejoicing. For Michigan State and head coach Tom Izzo, it’s the epitome of embarrassment and a study in failure.

How did Michigan prevail in a game it absolutely had to have? The Wolverines and coach John Beilein kept Sparty under wraps. Michigan State’s power and brawn enabled the visiting team to outrebound Michigan 44-25, including a 15-4 margin on the offensive glass. Yet, the Spartans couldn’t put the ball in the bucket because Wolverine defenders were always there to challenge shots. Two players who made almost all the key plays for Michigan State during last year’s Final Four run, forward Draymond Green and wing Durrell Summers, couldn’t hit the side of a barn in this backyard battle. Green hit just 3 of 14 shots and Summers – though stellar on the backboard with 13 rebounds – hit just 4 of his 15 deliveries. So what if Michigan got killed on the boards and hit just 5 of 19 3-pointers? The Wolverines made eight more foul shots (23 to 15) and committed only six turnovers. Beilein’s boys were clearly more effective on Saturday, even though Michigan State won more 50-50 balls.


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Michigan State hustled in this game, but it couldn’t execute, shoot, or defend without fouling. Basketball is a multi-faceted endeavor, and the Spartans are tending to only one or two areas in 2011. Michigan isn’t a paragon of peerless precision, but the Wolverines have been good enough to sweep the season series against Sparty and join MSU on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Two teams in the same basic location could not be further apart. We’ll see what the Big Ten Tournament does to distinguish Michigan from Michigan State… and from the other teams across the nation who are trying to hunt down an NCAA Tournament berth.



By Matt Zemek
BigTen-fans.com Correspondent



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