Spartans Vs Wolverines basketball: The Good, Bad and Ugly


For the first time since 2010, Tom Izzo and his Michigan State Spartans can have a sigh of relief leaving the Crisler Center with a 80-67 win over John Beilein and his Michigan Wolverines. But this game lacked a certain gravitas and grandeur that has been associated with this rival over the better part of the last half decade.

Michigan State has been continuously tinkering with lineup combinations that may provide a spark, and Izzo may have found it. Granted, it was against an obviously less impressive Wolverine roster that has been without star Caris Levert since mid January. But nonetheless the offense finally seems to be clicking and the defensive side seems to be buckling down…but not completely.

John Beilein has had his work cut out for him, and considering the personnel losses and youth having to be thrown in, he has done a very admirable job.

But with youth comes limitations and those were on display against a much more experienced Michigan State team. There should be optimism in Ann Arbor however, these kids are getting the best kind of experience, the kind you get when you lose to a good team. Not a great team, but a good one.

This game was much closer than the box score may suggest, both teams struggled in areas and there were some surprises. Both make a rivalry game more entertaining and here is the Good, Bad and Ugly from the latest edition to the Spartan/Wolverine saga.

Michigan State Spartans:

The Good

Travis Trice had the game of his Spartan career against Michigan. 22 points, 4 of 6 from three-point range, seven assists and 50 percent shooting from the field. He was all over the place and the main facilitator of the fast paced transitions that caused the home team to hurry up their offensive sets. With the offense that Beilein runs, fast pace means bad looks and wasted possessions.

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  • Brandon Dawson once again proved he is the leader of this team. A monster inside the paint, he attracted enough attention that gave teammates shots and created some of his own. With 23 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 of 12 shooting he was at his best.

    On the defensive end there were some lapses, most notable at the end of the game going for the steal and opening up an eventually made three-point shot. He was a Steady Eddy and did his job, with his size he dominated the rebound game against the smaller Wolverines.

    The Bad

    Defense was not at its normal “Izzo-esque” pedigree, but judging from the first half no one would have noticed. With a 15 point lead starting the second half, the defensive end turned to swiss cheese. Slow to react inside and slow to get to outside shooters, Michigan managed to claw their way back to a manageable deficit.

    Giving up 21 points at the charity stripe is not going to win games this late in the season. The Spartans were lucky they played a down Michigan team, because giving that up against Wisconsin or Illinois will not end up with a tourney bid.

    The Ugly

    That missed dunk by Brandon Dawson in the second half. If you’re going to go for it, you gotta make it my friend. Nobody is perfect, but this is against Michigan!

    Feb 17, 2015; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Spike Albrecht (2) moves the ball defended past Michigan State Spartans guard Lourawls Nairn Jr. (11) in the first half at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Michigan Wolverines:

    The Good

    The Wolverines made the most of drawing contact from the Michigan State defense. For most of the game they badly out matched the visitors at the foul line. The most important part of this being that they made the most of it. 75 percent completion for 21 free points made this a heck of a lot closer than it should be.

    The were intelligent setting plays with high chances to get some contact, and a great deal was their desire to finish at the rim.

    If they can improve their offensive flow and manage ten or so trips to the foul line, this team can be dangerous come Big Ten tournament time.

    The Bad

    This team needs to be able to handle speed. Last night’s game showed that they have some adjustments to make on the transition. Trice, Bryn Forbes, and Lourawls Nairn Jr. were way to open as the Wolverines struggled to stick with their man. 6 for 18 from behind the three-point line will make any game hard to stay close in.

    They’re young and they will learn, but in order to salvage a season that had high hopes they will need to be able to handle teams that can pick up the pace when they are on a roll. Just as Michigan State did.

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  • The Ugly

    There wasn’t much to be happy about with the performance and much of it should be pinned on the interior defense. The Spartan back court made mincemeat of Beilein’s 1-3-1 zone defense. Granted, Michigan State has a slew of weapons that must be accounted for.

    But overzealous reactions to Trice and Valentine opened up the lane for dishes to Dawson and a rather quiet Matt Costello. It wore the Wolverines down in the late stages, and with a lack of true big bodies down low adjustments must be made to counter the lack of size.


    How about this Muhammed-Ali Abdur-Rahkman kid? Blanked in the first half of the game and then exploded for 10 points in about four minutes. He caught fire real quick, his three pointers were dead on, his drive and pull up jumper was a thing of beauty. He will be one to watch.