Michigan fell 75-52 to Sparty on Tuesday, decreasing their all-time lead in the series to 94-76 (87-76 if you are into the Ed Martin adjusted record). The win was only the 2nd in 5 tries overall for the Spartans, but the 32nd in 33 tries at Breslin as well as the largest margin of victory in over 10 years.
Losing to Sparty sucks. Getting crushed by Sparty causes depression. This year, unlike most seasons since the late 90's, you really care, and you've probably been talking shit to your Sparty neighbors leading up to Tuesday's game. Now they own you, at least until March 3rd.
The emotional investment and the pride we felt for the most of this campaign seemed to disappear in one game, and that is sad, because something has been built here. The problem is, the foundation of it is based on the fragile psyches of freshman. Freshman that have never felt the pressure of a game in Bloomington, or the power of stupid people in large groups they experienced in East Lansing. The swagger is gone. This team is tired, scared and scarred. We need a break. We need to come home. We need Penn State to be Penn State...twice.
How they react now will define their legacy. When March comes in college basketball, nobody remembers February. There's another month of growth to be had before the Big Ten tournament, and it's open for debate whether that conference tournament really means something, even though it will be an amazing set of matchups.
The goal is to show up in the big dance. This season begins on March 21st (yes that is a lot later than usual) and involves 6 games. Avenge last year's debacle by winning on opening night. Make the sweet sixteen to get the national relevance we've been pining for. After that, it's all gravy. Win the first four, and you've got what the Spartans call a championship. Win six, and you grab something that the Spartans haven't held in 13 years, and something that is very rare in Big Ten country, a national championship in a revenue sport.
This team has a chance to do that. Not a great chance mind you, given their youth and streaky play by everyone not named Trey, but a chance nonetheless.
We went from this...
...in a very short amount of time ( and an amazingly brutal slate of games).
What we need is to find a way to become this...
...but by the rules of course :)
Keep calm and GO BLUE!