Michigan State must root for Michigan
by Jeff Seidel, USA TODAY Sports
EAST LANSING, Mich. — All right, Spartans.
This is going to take some practice.
Repeat after me: “Let’s go, Blue!”
Hey, stop making that face. You can do this. Grab this maize-and-blue pom-pom. You can root for Michigan. For one day. For two measly hours.
If No. 8 Michigan upsets No. 2 Indiana on Sunday afternoon, and if the Spartans beat Northwestern a few hours later, then Michigan State will grab a share of the Big Ten regular-season championship for the fourth time in five years.
Tiny clarification to Michigan State fans: OK, in this scenario, that team from Ann Arbor also will earn a share of the conference title with Indiana and possibly Ohio State. Yes, I know, Michigan State fans, you feel as if sharing a title with Michigan is like kissing your sister. The ugly one.
The Wolverines feel the same way about sharing anything with you.
In this strange, alternate universe of a Big Ten season, a year that has suddenly brought together the Spartans and Wolverines, a year filled with incredible battles and stunning upsets, not to mention some boneheaded loses (Hello, Michigan, I’d like to introduce you to Penn State), Michigan State fans will be forced to scream through clenched teeth: “Let’s go, Blue! Trey Burke, you are awesome!”
This fantastic, wonderful, dramatic, gut-wrenching scenario — for both teams, shoot, for the entire state — fell into place late Thursday night. Because the No. 12 Spartans beat No. 21 Wisconsin at the Breslin Center 58-43.
“I thought our defense was unbelievable,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
It was an ugly game that looked like mud wrestling. Minus the mud.
The Spartans snapped a three-game losing streak and crushed the Badgers because they played with hustle and determination. They won because several Spartans were diving on the court, getting floor burns and skinned knees, and Izzo was pumping his fist like somebody coaching linebackers.
They won because Travis Trice had six steals and Adreian Payne was playing with so much energy that he went for a dunk, landed on his back, seemingly broke every bone in his body, came back to life, grabbed the ball … [For more on To share Big Ten title, Michigan State must root for Michigan, click here.]