Michigan defeated Michigan State this weekend and yet the result did not give a clear storyline going forward. Here is a mix of things I've heard since the game:
"Congrats Michigan, you beat an injured Michigan State squad playing at 60% or so."
"This only reaffirms the thought that MSU is a Top 3 team in the nation, when this Spartan team can play UM to the wire. Imagine when everyone is healthy and Payne returns."
"Izzo doesn't really care what happens until March. He builds his teams to win NCAA Tourney games. Everything else is window dressing."
"Michigan lives and dies by the three-ball. If they don't get McGary back, you're looking at a first round NCAA exit-type team."
Although I enjoy over-analysis and overreaction as much as the next sports blogger, I think people missed the point. Thoughts -
Michigan beat Michigan State. It does matter. This is an important rivalry, injured stars or not, and this Michigan team needs all the wins it can get in case of a late-season slump when all those threes don't go in. And the game was thrilling to watch, featuring an electric crowd with back-and-forth play. Don't demean that.
Winning B1G titles is amazing and a huge accomplishment. You can't talk down to winning a B1G Title (i.e. "all Izzo cares about is NCAA Titles") and then celebrate when you win the B1G or B1G Tourney. They're all important for recruiting, reputation, seeding, etc.
Frankly, the Spartans were humming away on offense better than usual for most of the game without Dawson. It actually seemed like his indecision with the ball and ham-handed dribbling would have slowed the team's rhythm down.
Michigan does live and die by the three. Fortunately they have a lot of folks who can shoot it. Unfortunately they haven't developed any inside scoring. They're a year away from being a Top 10 team, and yet, the run through ranked Top 10 opponents is truly impressive. Tremendous resolve and tenacity is being shown by this first overrated, then underrated Wolverine team.
The Gary Harris / Stauskas match-up was thrilling to watch. I remember my own high school days when I would have to guard the opposing team's standout guard. It was so much fun, but sometimes I didn't sleep the night before thinking about the match-up. Harris did a great job getting a hand in the face of Stauskas, but sometimes great players hit big shots, again and again.
Check the poll question, let us know your thoughts. Saturday's game, spent pre-game at Dagwoods with a beer and some wings, was exactly what B1G hoops is about.