Tom Izzo Leads #10 Michigan State Into Ann Arbor For Only Regular Season Game with Michigan
East Lansing, MI
When the #10 Michigan State Spartans head into the home of their arch rival Michigan on Saturday, they are play for a lot more than just their 20th win on the year and 7th win in the Big Ten. This game is about pride. It doesn’t matter if either team is great or poor, this game matters and it is a big deal.
For Tom Izzo he loves playing the Wolverines and especially on the road. He said, “It’s a good place to play. I think the fixing up of it has done something but the inner workings of the place, as far as the stands go, are pretty much the same as they have always been. I just think better teams, better interest and that’s what has helped them.”
So will Izzo back off the pressure this week since the rivalry is already so intense? Who are you kidding. “No, I never back off. Ever. That’s so phony, (saying), ‘I’m not going to put pressure on.’ I’m going to put all the pressure I can put on them. If they can’t handle it then they’re not tough.
For Izzo and his Spartans they may not like their rival, but they respect them. Michigan Coach Beilein is one of the games master technicians and Izzo talked about facing his scheme.
“They are all fun. I think it is fun to play against a different system. When I say a different system, it’s more or less a four-guard system. I think that has it’s challenges, but it also has its chess matches going both ways and how you wanna do it. They’ve done a great job. They’ve got a good team. It’s a good, solid team. They’ve shot the ball awfully well. I think the improvement in Irvin has really helped this team. He was struggling a lot early after coming off that injury – that back injury – himself. I think right now he’s one of the most improved players. Robinson has become – and they probably knew about him last year – but a great shooter coming off. Doesn’t have to do a lot. He just has to make some shots. We gotta make sure we challenge their guys to do things they don’t wanna do as they are challenging some of our big guys to maybe cover different areas that we don’t wanna do. I’m grateful. It’s a good week. It’s fun to look at different ways to cover different things anytime you get into a different routine, that can be fun and exciting.”
It doesn’t matter what sport it is in, but when Michigan and Michigan State compete in anything it is intense. There seems to be a rise in the intensity over the past decade and Izzo knows why.
“When you look at the years, as it was said, it wasn’t just the last six or eight years, I mean we got our brains beat in early and then did some beating and then it’s gone back and forth. I think it’s more intense because of football, you know. And that’s fine with me. It’s always been a pretty good rivalry. I think Jud was 19-18 or 18-19, you know. I have no idea what I am nor do I care. But I know that we’ve won our share and we’ve had some tough games. I always look at it the same way each and every year. I think football … everything is intensified a little bit. As all of a sudden the team that wasn’t winning many games starts winning games. Rivalries are university-wide most of the time. Not just football or just basketball or just hockey. So I think maybe that’s helped it some.”
This year will be no different. The Jalen Watts-Jackson last second TD will go down in the annals of history as it implies to this rivalry. On Saturday that game will probably set the table of expectations for this game. They only meet once this year on the hardcourt in the regular season and neither fan base needs encouragement to be fired up.
Game: Michigan State vs Michigan
Where: Crisler Center Ann Arbor, MI
TV: CBS 2PM