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February 12, 2013

Staff Picks: Michigan at Michigan State

The Tom Izzo era has not been kind to the Wolverines.

Since putting Izzo in his place during the first five meetings, Michigan has dropped 19 of 25 matchups in the rivalry.

Alas for poor Tommy, it seems his ride on the gravy train of statewide dominance has come to an abrupt end. John Beilein and the Wolverines have won three of the last four games in the rivalry, including a season sweep in 2010-11.

Now, the Wolverines are in the top five in the nation and being mentioned in the Final Four debate much more frequently than the Spartans.

Tonight, Michigan and Michigan State are playing for more than just a 'W' and a spot in the Big Ten standings.

Will the Spartans reassert themselves as the state's basketball bully? Will the Wolverines continue their ascent toward the top of the sport? Tonight at 9 p.m., all of these questions will be answered.

But first, here are our thoughts:

John Borton: Zack Novak will reportedly be on hand, and while any threes he fires up from the stands won't count, others are ready to step in. It's a manhood check for the Wolverines in Tom Izzo's Torture Chamber … and this time, the last-second three-pointer misses the mark.

Michigan 68, Michigan State 65

Chris Balas: Michigan needs a road win to stay among those in the driver's seat in Big Ten play, having missed an opportunity (thanks to fate) at Wisconsin. This will be a tough one. Frankly, they need a few guys to play better than they have recently in order to pull one out in such a venue, and it appears as though a few have hit the wall given the grueling stretch.

MSU is tough to beat at home, especially with the little general bouncing around and pulling his hair out on the sidelines.

Michigan State 67, Michigan 62

Michael Spath: I went with Michigan over Indiana in Bloomington and was burned, but coming off an overtime loss to Wisconsin, angry and motivated to showcase their best, the Wolverines will put it together tonight.

Michigan 72, Michigan State 66

Andy Reid: There was once a man from East Lansing.

For whom a loss tonight would sting.

He said with chagrin,

As U-M punched him on the chin,

"It kills me that Michigan's advancing."

Michigan 71, Michigan State 69

Tim Sullivan: It might just be a sign that I still see Michigan as a "football school," and just see this basketball success as surreal (or that my serious experience with Michigan basketball starts in the post-NIT Amaker era), but a Michigan State team that is rounding into form just seems like too tough a hill for U-M to climb. They've done it before - and I'll gladly be proven wrong - but beating Michigan State in the Breslin Center just doesn't feel like a possibility tonight.

It'll be a close game, with maybe some controversial calls here and there - though not to the degree of Assembly Call or the Cahll Center (OK maybe that second pun didn't work work out) - and this young Michigan team has cracked under the pressure on some of those occasions, particularly on the road. If Nik Stauskas can re-find his shooting form or a bigman other than Mitch McGary can come up with some big plays, there's a chance.

Michigan State 67, Michigan 62


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