There's something different about watching Michigan play Michigan State, at least for me. I grew up in an era of complete dominance of Michigan over all things Sparty, and I had the same nervousness then that I get today. In short, I can handle a Michigan loss, but I just absolutely despise when there's a Michigan State win. They used to be few and far between, but these days they are a slightly more frequent, and I have a real deep hatred that comes out when it happens. So I am filled with angst and turn to superstitions as the game progresses. No relaxing or celebrating until 0:00.
When your life work is just trying to be relevant, to just get noticed outside of the Lansing State journal, your demeanor in victory (or even in defeat) is so off-putting. Sparty's love to elbow you in the ribs after a win...or even a Sportscenter Highlight, "Hey! How about them Spartan's? Big win bro," "How about them Spartans? Did you see that dunk on SVP's Top 10 last Thursday? Killin' it bro." Every interaction with them feels like a little kid coming at you with "Are we relevant now?" "OK, how about now?" "And now?"
The best thing that's happened to Michigan State athletics in the past 3 years is Harbaugh sub-tweeting at Dantonio.
It's as relevant as they had ever been until they harbored a rapist for 20 years and ran two athletic teams rife with sexual assaults.
The Michigan Basketball team however, seems to be able to treat it like any other game. They're business-like dismantling of Michigan State looked like any other Michigan game this year against any other opponent, including their previous whooping of the Spartans in the Nasser Center. To be honest, though Michigan had trouble hitting some open looks, I felt like they were more open than they've been in most games. What I'm saying is that they could have won by a lot more. Smart, well-coached basketball is kryptonite for Izzo and his group of underachievers.
I said it coming into the game, and it's clear after the game: Michigan is the better team. The Spartan's lucked their way through so many crap games this year that it's difficult to remember when they have played well. The reality is, Michigan needs to play better, both in order to repeat as Big Ten Tournament Champions, and to make a run in the tournament. They need to know that Sparty is not the benchmark, and there will be more difficult matchups ahead with teams with similar talent to MSU but that actually play well and are well coached.
Also, let's finish this shit tomorrow and hang a banner.