Men's Basketball


When the buzzer sounded, No. 10 Michigan State (23-5 overall, 14-3 Big Ten) walked off Crisler Center’s court as the first visiting team to win on it since last January, beating No. 7 Michigan (24-4, 13-4), 77-70, to gain sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.

Students started lining up in the wee hours of Sunday morning to secure a spot in line, waiting to get their wristband granting them access to the Maize Rage.

By the time I left, around 5:30, the line had wrapped into the parking lot by Yost. A rough count gave me about 500 students that were there at that time. I would imagine the line kept growing after I went home.

What unites them all is more to the point.

Each of them chose to wake up at an ungodly hour, or neglect sleep altogether, to wait in the rain and cold to be as close as they possibly can to the Wolverines’ biggest game on Sunday. Every person I asked gave the same prediction — that Michigan would come out on top over their in-state rival.

John Beilein and Tom Izzo have cultivated a relationship beyond their rivalry.

The coaches knew of each other, but had never actually met. So Izzo, after spotting the Mountaineers’ coach across the gym, made his way over to Beilein and made his introductions.

“I just had (my son) out there at an AAU event,” Izzo told The Daily in November. “And John was there and he just sat with us and that’s where I learned he was just a regular guy.”

Freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis downplayed the rivalry with Michigan State ahead of Sunday's game.

A mere two days before his team’s biggest game of the season, John Beilein started talking about how he was glad Michigan had gotten back from Minnesota a little earlier than usual. Then he talked about the challenge of a short turnaround.

Junior center Jon Teske must stay on the floor against Michigan State Sunday.

On Friday afternoon, Teske stood near the door of Crisler Center’s media room explaining the intricacies of defending without fouling — a concept Michigan coach John Beilein has emphasized to him for three years now, and one the Spartans will undoubtedly test on Sunday.

Forward Colin Castleton forced a travel and grabbed a rebound in Thursday's outing at Minnesota.

Here was the sophomore guard, after having scored a game-high 22 points and five 3-pointers, refusing the honor usually reserved for a performance of that caliber. There was someone who he felt deserved it more.

“All y’all gotta ask him a question,” Poole said, gesturing at Colin Castleton. “I’m not answering nobody's questions ‘til you ask him.”

Junior guard Zavier Simpson had 12 assists and 6 rebounds in the Wolverines' 69-60 win at Minnesota.

“We just gotta be extremely locked in and come out to play every night,” said sophomore Jordan Poole, relaying their message. “Take the exact same approach. It can be hard if you go and play a team that doesn't have that many wins in the league or you beat a team already earlier in the year.”

Thursday night, faced with an opponent who checked both those boxes, the Wolverines did exactly that, beating Minnesota, 69-60.

Michigan in a game against Minnesota at the Williams Arena Thursday. Michigan won 69-60.

Opened in 1928, Williams is college basketball’s sixth-oldest arena and one of its most unique. When stacked up to modern venues and their amenities, it doesn’t seem all that sexy, but it’s steeped in history and proudly displays all of its 91 years. It is what it’s always been.

On Thursday night, Michigan went to Minneapolis and beat the host Golden Gophers, 69-60, moving to 13-3 in Big Ten play and 24-3 overall. The Wolverines, too, were who they’ve always been.

Cassius Winston and Michigan State went 0-2 against Zavier Simpson and Michigan last season.

This matchup is personal, at least on one side. On the other?

“Yeah, definitely,” Winston said. “Like I said, Michigan game. It’s always gonna be personal.”

Michigan defeated Seton Hall, 80-79, in overtime to capture the program's lone NCAA Championship.

Thirty years later, it remains the only national title banner hanging at Crisler Center. And 30 years later, players and coaches from that team will reunite before Michigan faces Michigan State on Sunday. The Daily spoke to many of them to put together the story of a one-of-a-kind season.

“It’s 30 years later, and people still talk about it,” said Terry Mills, a junior center on that team. “Every time I come to the arena, I’ll walk out of the arena, you got people there like, ‘Thanks for ‘89.’ ”