Our friends from Ann Arbor did everything they could to do us a solid (as the kids say), nearly upsetting Wisconsin in Madison. They fell just short, losing 64-61.
The Wolverines played with an intensity rarely seen from the Maize and Blue in recent years–particularly on the boards. They pulled down 19 offensive rebounds in 33 opportunities for a whopping offensive rebounding percentage of 57.6% (geeky stat note: excludes team rebounds due to delayed posting of official box score).
Manny Harris was a revelation. He scored 26 points on 11-19 FG shooting. He scored on a variety of driving lay-ups and floaters. He has a remarkable knack for creating off the dribble for a college freshman.
In the end, the Badgers did what the Badgers always seem to do: hit big shots at precisely the moments they need them. The biggest was Marcus Landry’s 3-pointer with a hand in his face to put Wisconsin up by 4 and effectively end the game.
The Wolverines will be inconsistent this year due to their lack of depth, but this game serves as evidence that Beilein is slowly turning them around. As he brings in new players and the team adjusts to his system, the Spartan-Wolverine basketball rivalry could become a great one. For now, here’s hoping the Wolverines come in deflated on Sunday after losing a game they fought so hard in and we pin one more blow out on them.
As for Wisconsin, they avoided the big upset that MSU succumbed to in Iowa. I start to get the feeling that making up for the Iowa loss is going to take a couple really big road performances by MSU against the conference’s other top teams.
In closing, let me offer up a bit of advice to Brent Musburger: Every shot is not “huge.” In the course of a good college basketball game, there are maybe 3-4 plays that really affect the momentum of the game. I’d estimate that Musburger uses the word 15-20 times per game. It’s a shame we’re forced to listen to his over-the-top calls for nearly every Big Ten game on ESPN–particularly in light of the fact that Steve Lavin is such a great color guy, seamlessly blending real basketball insight with a splash of personality.