It’s rival week again folks, the Michigan Wolverines are traveling to the Breslin Center for what will be a huge win for either team.
The Spartans are in desperate need of a victory, they are unfortunately on a three game losing streakhile the Wolverines just came off of a huge win at home against Indiana.
Will Michigan State finally regain their footing and bounce back against the Wolverines Sunday or will Michigan carry their newfound momentum forward?
The Only Colors: John Beilein has been the Head Coach for the University of Michigan since 2007, in that time he has managed to win 60.8% of his games. Twice he has led Michigan to become Big Ten Champs, as well as winning Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2014. Other accomplishments include a final four, an elite 8 and a championship appearance. With less than two months left in the season where do you see him leading the Wolverines this year?
Maize n Brew: Michigan has been inconsistent, but this does feel like a team with tournament potential that could win a game or two, but likely would be out in the opening weekend if they get there. They still have a tough stretch of games and have shown that they are prone to some duds on any given night, so it truly is on a game-by-game basis right now. This game at MSU is one they have to have.
TOC: In the past Beilein has been criticized for his consistency as a recruiter. A little over a season ago fans may have jumped the gun when implying Beilein should be let go, what do you say to people who are unhappy with John Beilein as a coach?
MNB: The cries for a change are somewhat justified. It does feel like the program has plateaued a bit, but how much better can Michigan get not being a basketball tradition like other programs across the country? That's a question they need to answer, but for right now it does not feel like there is a whole lot of heat on his job.
TOC: This year the Wolverines are hurting when it comes to playing defense. Currently they are ranked #307 in the nation for Field Goal Percentage Defense, allowing teams to shoot an average of 46.8% per game. Michigan State has five guys shooting 37% or better from beyond the arc while the team shoots an average of 47.3% from the field. What will the Wolverines need to do on Sunday to contain the Spartans as a defensive unit?
MNB: The key here is the turnovers. Indiana shot extremely well against the Wolverines the other night, but turned over the ball so frequently and Michigan made them pay. Teams are going to be able to get open looks against the Wolverines, but taking care of the basketball should be priority No. 1 for Tom Izzo and his team.
TOC: In your opinion is the MSU-UM rivalry bigger as it pertains to football or basketball? Why?
MNB: I would say football because of the two team's passion on both sides of the rivalry. Michigan is perceived as arrogant, while MSU is seen as a downtrodden school who is disrespected. It's a dynamic that constantly plays itself out, whereas with basketball the hatred just does not feel like it is really there, at least from the Ann Arbor end of things. Those who are locked in love both, though.
TOC: Who is one guy Michigan State fans should keep an eye on?
MNB: DJ Wilson is starting to come on for the Wolverines and if he keeps it up, Michigan has a post presence again, which is something they have lacked since Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary. In year three, it feels like he is finally starting to put it together.
TOC: What is one matchup you will be paying close attention to during the game?
MNB: I want to see how the Wolverines handle Miles Bridges. Bridges is one of those "pro at the prom" prospects who had an NBA future before he stepped foot on MSU's campus.
TOC: Since 2010 Michigan State has won 8 of 14 games against the Michigan Wolverines, what is your prediction for Sunday?
MNB: Both teams need to win this one, but it feels like MSU needs it more or else it may be lights out for their NCAA tournament chances. I give the Spartans the advantage at home and have them winning 76-72.
Thanks to Anthony and everyone over at Maize n Brew! Best of luck for the rest of the season!