My thoughts on the MSU victory over Michigan Sunday
Michigan did well to push the Spartans to overtime before losing 76-66 without either Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr. - arguably the Wolverines two best players.
Neither team features the top-line NBA prospects they had in the recent past, and MSU should beat Michigan based on the experience of key players such as Travis Trice, Branden Dawson, Denzel Valentine and Matt Costello. The Spartans are stronger inside, too, because Gavin Schilling is a gifted, if not consistent, big man.
Saturday's game seemed to be kind of a continuation of Michigan coach John Beilein getting the most out of his team, while Tom Izzo is struggling to find a way with his Spartans.
I do think the handwriting is on the wall for Michigan. The Wolverines are going to struggle to make the NCAA tournament. It was going to be difficult enough without the injuries, and Sunday was a bit like last Saturday's defeat to Wisconsin, a classic moral victory.
If the Wolverines get into the Big Dance, the run will likely be short. But I do see some potential for growth for the Spartans. They are going to win 20-plus games. At 6-3 in the Big Ten, they could have a high placement in the conference regular season standings. Izzo has a well-established propensity for building to a crescendo late in the regular season and during tournament time. He has some pieces to work with, too. The keys are obvious. Valentine played very well Sunday, but he and Dawson and Trice simply have not developed that will that has been the trademark of the Spartans' upper classmen in the past. But there is still time. Don't be surprised if Izzo makes the most of it.
My column. Red Wings provide reasons why they are legit contenders to win Stanley Cup championship: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20150131/pat-caputo-detroit-red-wings-provide-more-reason-to-believe-they-are-legit-stanley-cup-title-contenders
My column. MLB needs a pitch clock and to limit extreme defensive shifts: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20150201/mlb-needs-a-pitch-clock-and-to-limit-extreme-defensive-shifts-pat-caputo-says