Monday, January 27, 2014

Hopefully some perspective on Michigan's win over MSU

This isn't meant to dismiss Michigan's victory over Michigan State Saturday. Such wins by the Wolverines at the Breslin Center have been rare. The Wolverines have done a terrific job of maintaining a high level of performance despite losing Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. to the NBA, and Mitch McGary because of injury.
MSU, Michigan: Wolverines pulling up along side
Beating three Top 10 teams in a week (Wisconsin, Iowa, MSU), two on the road, is very impressive. So is being all alone in first place in arguably the nation's best conference, the Big Ten.
Yet, in the bigger picture, it won't mean nearly as much if it's not part of a process in which the Wolverines are hitting their peak in March.
There are still 11 games remaining in Big Ten regular season play, the conference tournament and the NCAA tournament. Did anybody remember, or care, that Michigan was throttled by 23 points at East Lansing last February, while the Wolverines were on their run to their national title game while the Spartans were knocked out in the Sweet 16?
The Spartans were missing Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson Saturday. They both figure to be back for the postseason. Also, Keith Appling was banged up. So, fairly or unfairly, there was an asterisk next to the win by the Wolverines.
What the Wolverines have proven is they are pretty even to MSU when it comes to college basketball. Their program is very solid, and wasn't just the product of one brilliant player, Burke.
But the jury is still out on this season.
While Saturday's victory presented more hard evidence the Wolverines have pulled even with the Spartans, it would be na├»ve to believe it was definitive.


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