Spartans have stronghold on this 'rivalry'


Ann Arbor — I’m still waiting.

Waiting for Michigan to crash the boards or someone to put a hand in the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year’s face.

I’m waiting for U-M fans and students to show up for every game like they did Tuesday. Waiting for the Wolverines to make winning this game a point of emphasis as much as the ever-winning Spartans do.

Bottom line, I’m waiting for this to finally play out as the rivalry I’ve been hearing so much about. I’m waiting for that year.

Tuesday’s 57-56 MSU win was simply confirmation that this year — dubbed as the one — is, in fact, not. So if U-M can’t win it this year, then when?

In big games, good teams do what they do best. In this case, the No. 5 Spartans cleaned the glass as if a Wolverines board was a personal insult to a close family member. They flexed their muscles in crunch time and overcame crucial turnovers.

Was it close? Yes. But I don’t see an asterisk by that program-best 8-0 start in Big Ten play.

In a game like this, the Wolverines needed to have an out-of-body experience. Instead, it was as though the Maize Rage called Raymar Morgan and Kalin Lucas and asked them to have one instead.

True program fans come in droves and outcry the home team. They don’t have trouble selling out conference games or contests against perennial national title contenders.

For the first half, U-M fans had to catch up to drown out MSU fans’ cheers. But when dunks from junior guard Durrell Summers and sophomore forward Delvon Roe and a 3-pointer from junior guard Kalin Lucas gave the Spartans a 42-37 lead, Crisler Arena came alive — with Spartan green.

A wretched run of 17 losses in 20 tries against the Spartans (and seven of 10 at Crisler) doesn’t constitute a rivalry. Heck, if not for the conference schedule, it’d be as much of a favor scheduling U-M for an exhibition as Oakland in November.

DeShawn Sims will be gone next year and Manny Harris is likely to follow suit. The Spartans will return a Big Ten Player of the Year, a Sixth Man of the Year candidate and the nucleus of a strong group of guards with promising frontcourt players.

And with the Spartans bringing in a consensus top 10 recruiting class and prime in-state talent, the hand doesn’t appear to be tipping in the Wolverines’ favor.

But if I’m wrong and next year is finally the Maize Rage’s heyday, come find me.

I’ll be waiting.

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