When Michigan State fell on Tuesday night to Purdue 82-81 in overtime it was a game of respect. Michigan State had won seven games in a row and had owned the rivalry. Despite head to head battles that often come down to the wire, these two schools that compete on the court and in recruiting nearly every day have a lot of respect.
After an amazing highlight performance on Tuesday night, Boilermaker senior guard Rapheal Davis said of the game and finally beating the Spartans that, “It was an unbelievable feeling, I have been telling these guys since this summer I just want to be Michigan State. I’ve never beaten Michigan State. Playing Michigan State is just like (IU) to me. It is a little bit more to me than playing IU. They have a good team, Coach Izzo is a great coach, they have great players. If felt great to go out there and get a win only playing them once this year. It was crazy, but it felt great.”
Spartan fans need to understand the depth of those comments. By all accounts (on and off the record) Davis is a great young man and could you ever imagine Spartan in any sport equating a school as an equal rival to Michigan?
The Indiana vs Purdue rivalry is heated. Frankly it is at times pure hate on many levels for multiple facets in their fan base. Every game the Purdue student section the “Paint Crew” (their Izzone) no matter the opponent, hurls multiple direct degrading insults towards their arch rival the Hoosiers.
I assumed that Davis comments weren’t as direct as they sounded so I asked him to elaborate and he went farther. “This is a big rival for us, especially since they beat us so many times. It just felt big to me. They always have good players and they have Indiana guy in Eron Harris who I have known since I was real young. To me Michigan State is as big a rival as Indiana in my eyes. Nobody else might admit that, but it was good to get a win against a top ten team, Michigan State, the Final Fours, things like that. It feels good.”
That respect by Davis should mean something to Spartan fans, but I have a hunch won’t go over well in Bloomington. Indiana is a standard bearer college basketball program that should be a perennial national power every year. Instead they have simply been struggling to gain national relevance again.