The University of Michigan Wolverines and the Michigan State University basketball teams are good at the same time for the first time in a long time.
The 13th ranked Michigan Wolverines (21-7, 11-4) have finally found their niche, after more than a decade of woeful seasons. Fifth year coach John Beilein has taken the Wolverines into the NCAA Championship Tournament twice and is essentially guaranteed a spot this season.
The 6th ranked Michigan State Spartans, lead by future hall of fame coach Tom Izzo, have bounced back from a disappointing 2010-2011 season. The Spartans (23-5, 11-3) have been showing that they are a Final Four caliber team with a very legitimate chance at winning the national championship.
On the court the Spartans are lead by versatile senior point-forward, Draymond Green and electrifying point guard Keith Appling. After losing their first two games to North Carolina and Duke, the Spartans are 23-5 including a conference best 12-3 in the big ten. Green is averaging 15.5 points, 10.3 boards, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals. He leads the Spartans in all of those categories except assists – Appling averages 3.9 assists.
While the Spartans have been successful for just about all of Tom Izzo’s tenure as head coach, the Wolverines have not been relevant in basketball since the mid 1990’s.
John Beilein has resurrected the Michigan basketball program with competitive recruiting. His team is lead by veteran seniors Zach Novak and Stu Douglas and the up and coming play of sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr. and Freshman Trey Burke. Burke’s production – 14.3 points, 3.5 reounds, 4.8 assists per game – has proven that he is one of the top freshman in the country.
This year the squads split their head to head matchups with a 60-59 barn burner at the expense of the Spartans at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor on January 17th. The Spartans, Anxious for revenge, humbled the Wolverines with a 64-54 drubbing at the Breslin Center on February 5th.
The Wolverines are undefeated at the renovated Crisler Center this year with impressive wins over Michigan State, Ohio State and Indiana University. Their closest win was against none other than the rival Spartans.
Michigan State is arguably the best team in the Big Ten this year – which many analysts consider to be the best conference in the nation. The Spartans have shown that their disappointing season last year does not affect the coaching styles of Tom Izzo. The Spartans are the only team in the country who has been able to win at Ohio State, a victory that was humbling for the Buckeyes, to say the least.
The Spartans and the Wolverines are bringing in the 6th and 11th ranked recruiting classes respectively. The Spartans is class topped by 11th ranked prospect, Gary Harris while the prize of the Wolverines class is 22nd ranked prospect, Mitch McGary. McGary is the first big name recruit for the Wolverines since the “Fab Five” of the early 1990’s.
With the Big Ten and National Championship Tournaments right around the corner, basketball fans in Michigan have a lot to look forward to from these two talented teams.