NCAA Hoops: Battle for the Mitten
Forward and Questioning by M. Jones (The referee of this battle per se)
Responses Contributed by Z. Ficht (U of M), A. Fletcher (MSU) and T. Parnell (U of M)
In a Motown Meltdown exclusive, we brought together a few staff writers to provide their thoughts and predictions for the upcoming NCAA basketball game between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. I collected the responses seperately in an attempt to prevent this from spirilng out of control. As you may have noticed by now, some of our contributors are very passionate about their hometown teams, and specifically their love for either Michigan or MSU, but definitely not both. Some would call them ‘homers’ but I will refer to them as die-hard fans who take no shit and give no mercy.
These guys draw a line in the sand so straight that GLAAD nearly started an investigation.
When the two teams battle on January 25th in East Lansing, they will be playing for first place in the big 10 and bragging rights as Michigan enters the game at 14-4 (6-0 in the Big Ten) while MSU is at 18–1 (7-0 in the Big Ten) and ranked high in the polls at #3 in the country. Michigan also climbed back into the polls at 21 this week, after achieving a rare win in Wisconsin last weekend and following it up with huge win vs. Iowa on Wednesday. MSU has serious National Championship aspirations and Michigan has surprised nearly everyone with an extremely strong start in conference play after losing a few games early and also losing Mitch McGary to a back injury. There is no doubt the fan bases (including the contributors to this post) will be drunk, loud and ready to fuck shit up on Saturday. Probably the only thing this threesome can agree on is that all fans from the state of Wisconsin SUCK.
Game Information – Saturday on ESPN at 7 p.m. in East Lansing, MI
1 – Biggest surprise player this season:
ZF – Biggest surprise player from a Michigan standpoint has to be the evolution of Nik Stauskas. I was one of his biggest detractors last year and always thought that Nik was a one trick pony. But so far this season, the hard work that Nik put in this summer is really paying off. He’s currently the leading scorer in the B1G and has developed an all-around game that allows him to score from behind the arc or off the dribble all while being able to dish the ball down low, allowing easy buckets for Morgan and Horford.
As for state, it’s a no brainer: Sparty the mascot.
I mean this guy is working his ass off. Hyping up the crowd, making the kids laugh, Sparty is really the only Michigan State student doing anything positive for the basketball program. Branden Dawson is breaking his hand on tables and Denzel Valentine is deliberately widening the gap in his teeth for some reason. [MJ Editor Note: I never realized Dawson’s name was spelled Branden….they really need to install spellcheck at hospitals on the birthing floors. This also applies to Adreian, Zak and Nik.] I’m surprised that Tom Izzo hasn’t murdered at least one of them at this point. Even with these lackluster jabronies State is trotting out there each night, the Spartans somehow remain undefeated in conference play.
Players and fans alike have that noble, sweaty kid in the Sparty suit to thank for their success.
TP – The biggest surprise for the Wolverines has been Caris Levert. The little talked about guard for Michigan has averaged just over 11 PPG in a starting role after hardly contributing until March last season. His defense is really his calling card but this kid is finding his stroke as well. Working out with Nik Stauskas over the offseason to add weight to his frame has done wonders for Levert. Word of advice for Sparty… don’t leave this guy open around the arc or he is going to make you pay on the offensive side of the ball.
For MSU I’m going to take a little different approach to this and say Branden Dawson, not because of anything he has done on the court though. This fucking moron got so mad at a film session that he slammed his hand on a table this week and broke his hand. This coming right before the biggest game on MSU’s schedule thus far, a game that they’ll most likely be playing without Adreian Payne as well. Way to completely fuck over your team. This surprised the hell out of me this week, but I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised, because… let’s be honest, he’s a Spartan.
AF – Adreian Payne’s performance up until his injury has been a big surprise to me. MSU has been waiting for him to step out of his shell and play at that Big Ten Player of Year level. He won’t win that title as Gary Harris, his fellow teammate most likely will win it, but he has played at that caliber no doubt about it. State brings a different team to games when Payne is healthy. For Michigan, I don’t think they had any players that suprised anyone. They are a under mediocre team that had a bit of a hot streak… “had”.
2 – X Factor(s) in the game:
ZF – Is this the question? Glenn Robinson is the answer. In GR3’s two games he’s played in EL he has scored a total of 8 points. That’s beyond shitty, especially for a player that many consider a future NBA draft pick. With that being said, the main cause for Robinson’s poor play was due in large part to Branden Dawson; whom as we just mentioned broke his hand fighting the ever dangerous film room table. The door is open Glenn, but don’t just walk through it; close it then kick it the FUCK DOWN! Nik is going to get his and it’s about time Robinson became the consistent dominant force that we all know he can.
For MSU, this one was hard for me. I really wanted to say Sparty again, he’s just that influential. But for the reader’s sake let’s venture out a bit. The X factor for MSU is the girlfriends of the players. Both teams come in undefeated in B1G play and that can put a lot of pressure on the toughest of athletes. Give those same players blue balls and the results are horrific. Ladies, I implore you give your man some lovin’. I don’t care if it’s just a simple old fashioned, you gotta release those pipes!
If you want to be at that bitchin after party celebrating a W, I suggest getting to work.
TP – For U of M, the X factor is Zak Irvin. Coming into Michigan as a top level recruit, Irvin got off to a slow start. But he showed in the win over Iowa, that he does in fact possess the skill that made him Mr. Basketball in Indiana last year. He has the ability, skill set and size to compete with the best wing men in the conference. If Zak is on like he was on Wednesday night, Sparty might as well not even show up.
On the other side of the fence, I will go with any of the white boys coming off the Spartan bench. Let’s face it, none of these guys are good. But if for some crazy reason one of them decides to channel their inner Nik Stauskas, then I guess we might have to take notice.
AF – Michigan is the worst rebounding team in the Big Ten, State happens to be the 4th best. With Payne and Dawson accounting, on average, for just about half of State’s rebounds per game, MSU could really give this game away in their absence. As of right now, Branden Dawson is definitely out for Saturday, and we are about 95% sure that Payne is out as well. This changes the way State looks completely, it’s really not the same team. With that said, the X Factor for MSU is Kenny Kaminski and his ability to have an impact on the boards, where he is traditionally not very aggressive. He is averaging about 10 minutes a game but with Payne and Dawson out, he should get around double that, if not a bit more. Kaminski, being a freshman forward, can really prove something Saturday. Again, Michigan is an awful rebounding team, if State can capitalize on that as they would with Payne and Dawson, Green will be fine. In short, for both teams its the boards.
3 – Ceiling for each team this year (i.e. Can they cuts down the nets in April?):
ZF – The ceiling for the Wolverines is as high as that ladder in April will stand as Stauskas and company cut down the nets in Arlington. Walton, needs to step up his game in order to accomplish this goal, but the way Derrick has fit into Coach B’s system so far anything is possible.
Michigan State however, is lucky to make the tournament. Yes, they currently only have one loss but fuck ‘em. You think I’d ever say anything positive about the green and white? Okay, that ridiculous, this team has the talent and focus to…wait I can’t….just…no.
TP – This current Michigan team is interesting to me and a little hard to read. If you asked me this question a month ago, I might have said, “Give me a tourney win and I’m good”. But with the emergence of some key role players filling in for the injured Mitch McGary, and a number of others outplaying their preseason expectations, I firmly believe this team can make a run at the Big Ten regular season title, tourney title and has a decent shot at a sweet 16 birth. After that, who knows, as we all saw what last year’s squad was able to accomplish when they got hot.
On the other side, the sky is the limit for this MSU team if they are healthy and can stop donkey punching tables. With Payne and Dawson, this is a top 5 team and is poised for a Final Four run. But if these injuries linger, I’d put the Spartans on upset alert going into round 2 of the NCAA Tourney.
AF – I think Michigan fans understand that last year they “captured lightning in a bottle” with Trey Burke. [MJ Editor Note: It is clear from the previous responses so far, that they have not fully accepted this] This year isn’t last year, and I understand that is hard for most Michigan fans to get, but there is absolutely zero chance that Michigan wins a championship this year. They couldn’t do it last year with Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, how in the hell could they do it without them? For the record, I can even admit that Trey Burke was a beast, and also on the record, I wish the Pistons would have drafted him. That’s all you get though. MSU on the other hand, has a real chance of winning a championship this year, I believe toe to toe, they can hold court with any team in the NCAA; caveat, they have to be healthy. We will have to see how these injuries pan out and we will see where the seeds land on selection Sunday.
4 – Worst characteristic about the other team’s fans:
ZF – The “woe is me” fan base that takes it upon themselves to point out that there are fans who root for Michigan, but didn’t actually go there. WHAT?!?!?! Those frauds must be killed! How dare they?! A program that actually generates statewide support must be full of assholes, or at least that’s what state would have you think.
TP – MSU basketball fans are the worst. I hate them as much if not more than Ohio football fans, and that is saying a lot. The worst part about them is that they think they still own this rivalry because of what happened in the past. In football, MSU fans always shit on Michigan because the typical Michigan fan will refer to history when speaking of the rivalry. Quit being fucking hypocrites and don’t act like you don’t pull that same shit in basketball. In the past 3 years (right when Michigan basketball started to come back to relevance), the rivalry is split with 3 wins for each team. This rivalry is renewed and no team has “owned” anyone. We’ve been back on your level for a few years now Sparty, so time to step it up and get on ours.
AF – Honestly, there are too many and I am not sure which is the worst. But in the past 5-6 YEARS, Michigan fans have this uncanny ability to still actually believe that they are a superior team in every sport, regardless of how many times State whips that ass. It’s almost like a bunch of crack heads all at once trying to explain to you why crack is the best drug on the planet, but they can’ t understand why more people buy heroin.
Well, apparently heroin is just better. But no one expects a crack head to understand much. Along with this crack head mentality, is the never ending argument of “but what has happened in for the past bazillion years?? hahahahaha”. Fucking morons… Look, Betty White used to be Hot, Goldie Hawn used to be Hot, only a god damn blind person could still think either could compete for a spot on the back page of a hustler or be relevant again. Betty White > Michigan.
5 – Best NBA Prospect on each roster:
ZF – UM – Stauskus. Dude can score from anywhere, he gets over half court and he’s in range. He’s added a great ability to get to the rim and score in traffic along with his defensive skill set. Nik will be an immediate help to an NBA team who needs a scorer.
MSU – Gary Harris. Harris like Stauskas, can put the ball in the hoop from the parking lot. And he can score of the dribble and possesses great natural ability on the court. Harris is the main focus for opponents every time they are forced up against the Spartans. Izzo got him to stay an extra year and it appears only to be helping his game become NBA ready.
TP – UM – I think it is a no- brainer here with Glen Robinson III. His athletic ability alone has NBA GM’s foaming at the mouth. He can score from all areas of the floor, and can jump out of the gym. He will be a lottery pick in next year’s draft no doubt. [MJ Editor Note: I am not so sure, I still think GR3 and Mitch will forever regret not entering the 2013 draft as I said at the time]
MSU – Gary Harris, hands down. I’ll be the first to admit, this guy is the real deal. He also wins the title for largest eyebrows, but he is going to have some competition at the next level (see Anthony Davis).
Also a lottery pick, will go higher than GRIII based on his ability to shoot the 3 ball. Probably, a top 10 pick in late June.
AF – MSU – Adreian Payne, if he can remain healthy will be a first rounder. I think his skills transfer well to the NBA. But, I have this feeling that Keith Appling is going to have the better NBA career. PGs that can slash as good as most SGs and SFs are in demand in the NBA, that is Appling. He is definitely stronger than most PGs, but he seems to have committed to being more of a passer this year than in previous years, which is something he had to prove to scouts.
UM – Michigan’s best NBA prospect no doubt is Jon Horford….. sike. Haha, for real though Mitch McGary is the real deal, he will play and be semi-successful to moderately successful in the NBA…a poor man’s Kevin Love if you will, a real poor man, maybe more like a Kris Humphries but hey that still qualifies you to pound some groupie poon.
6 – Player you dislike most on the opposing team:
ZF – Adreian Payne. For the simple fact that he is universally loved by every single person who doesn’t root for Michigan. The fact that he can now bang home the trey ball consistently only makes my disdain for him grow. Also, I feel that Payne has been on this roster since 2002. It’s time that he gets to steppin.
TP – Adrien fucking Payne. God, he is such a piece of shit. I hope his injured vagina is still cramping tomorrow so I don’t have to look at his ugly mug any more than I should. Have fun clapping it up from the bench you schmuck.
AF – Glen Robinson III, or as the homers call him GR3. He might be the most overrated basketball player I have ever seen. If his dad wasn’t the first overall pick in 94’ draft, who went on to be a great NBA player, instead of playing basketball in Ann Arbor this kid would be playing the buckets outside of Ford Field. I’ve seen my 4 year old nephew get to hoop and finish better than this bUM.
7 – Which teams will finish in the top 3 in the Big Ten this season?
ZF – Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa – Don’t look down Sparty, it is a long fall.
TP – Is this a trick question? Who the hell do you think I am? This is MEEEEECCHHIIIGGAAANNNNNNNNN
2. Michigan State
3. Wisconsin (Sorry Iowa, but I still feel like you are going to drop some stupid games like this one at Northwestern this weekend)
AF – Michigan State, Michigan and Iowa (which happens to be the present standings).
8 – Predictions for the game:
ZF – I predict that Michigan will capture the elusive win in East Lansing. Stauskas will score 25 with 6 assists. Glenn chips in 17 points of his own and Morgan cleans up the glass with an impressive 13 boards. It will come down to the wire, but with ice in his veins Nik will bury the clutch free throws needed to get past the currently undefeated Spartans.
TP – With Payne and Dawson nursing sand in their respective vag’s, Michigan holds the clear edge here. Although MSU is definitely talented in the back court, the front court leaves a lot to be desired. I’m not sure where the rebounding is coming from with those guys out. The emergence of “Morford” (Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan’s nickname, I never said it was a good one) will create problems for MSU. Nik Stauskas is going to need to keep up with Gary Harris on the scoring end. But I don’t see Appling and the gang having enough to slow down Michigan’s other offensive weapons of GR III, Levert, Irvin and the PG duo of Derrick Walton and Spike Albrecht. All in all, Michigan will be too much offense for Sparty to handle and put a B1G fucking stamp on this rivalry. Michigan 78 Fuck-faces 67. Sparty off bitches…
AF – State wins 79 – 70 and covers the spread, which is currently MSU -5. FINAL NOTE: No matter what kind of nonsense these two turds spew out before me. Remember this, we are talking about #3 MSU vs. #21 UofM it is clear who the better team is regardless of this game. I want to get this out as well, Flint Stones > The Fab five…. Which one has a ring????
MJ – These guys clearly spit some venom, or should I say ‘hot fire’.
Enjoy the game and thanks for reading!