Spartans can begin to crumble or continue to climb; starts with Wolverines

It starts with a rivalry game. The Spartans will travel east on I-96 to Ann Arbor to face the University of Michigan Wolverines in perhaps the biggest game between the two (on the hardwood) in recent history.

The Spartans can float down from cloud nine after losing to a mediocre Northwestern team over the weekend, recording their first loss in the past 15 games. Forget about U-M going to Iowa and getting shellacked by the Hawkeyes this past Saturday. Forget that U-M beat the Spartans twice last year.  It’s a rivalry game and that is the only thing that ever matters in collegiate sports.

There are no other circumstances.

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Surely, each team will key in on every advantage they might have and do whatever it takes to win this one- because this opposition is personal.

As Coach Izzo simply put it at his press conference earlier in the week, “I don’t like anything about Michigan, and they don’t like anything about us, and that’s just the way it is.”

MSU’s leader, Draymond Green, explained it’s personal for him as well. “I never want to lose to Michigan,” he said.

Interestingly enough, Green has always played below average versus Michigan. Last year in two losses against Michigan, Green scored 9 and 7 points in the two contests- much below his season average. Also in the two games combined, he only pulled down nine rebounds. Given, Draymond Green needs to play aggressive and be forceful if he wants to have a chance to beat Michigan. But the Wolverines will be gunning for him, as he’s been gaining more and more national attention with his stellar play as of late.

[caption id="attachment_318" align="aligncenter" width="286" caption="Draymond Green fights for a rebound against U-M's emotional leader Zack Novak in last year's loss."][/caption]

MSU is depending a lot on Draymond Green. And if he can play as he’s capable of, the Spartans will sneak away with a victory in Ann Arbor.

Prediction: The intense atmosphere at Crisler Arena keeps the Wolverines in the game, but it’s not enough as Keith Appling wins the point guard showdown against inexperienced Trey Burke.

MSU-65, U-M-60

Michigan State @ Michigan- January 17, 2012, 7pm on ESPN.

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