Some will say Michigan proved their "toughness" by defeating cross-state arch rival Michigan State in the basketball game. Actually, they did no such thing. In fact, in front of their rabid home crowd, the Wolverines were lucky to barely escape with a 1 point victory.
Winning in the Big Ten is tough these days, especially on the road. Even Indiana, possibly the best team in the country, would probably attest to that. They've lost a couple close games on the road to teams they likely would have throttled at home (and also a couple home games that are head scratchers, but everybody has a sub-par outing once in a while). The Big Ten has 6-7 teams that could qualify for the NCAA tournament coming around in a little over a week. There's been some serious in-conference competition going on over the course of the regular season.
As for UM/MSU this time around? The Spartans didn't really have a bad game, nor did the Wolverines necessarily have a good one. In the end, a one point victory is just that. As close as it gets. But remember, this was played on Michigan's home court which, theoretically, is supposed to make a big difference. No doubt, the Wolverines wanted some pay-back for the 23 point thrashing they had suffered at the hands of the Spartans 3 weeks ago on MSU's home court. It was supposed to be a "statement" game. Instead, UM was indeed fortunate to squeak by with the narrowest of victories. That could hardly be considered a "statement" by the Maize and Blue. (Speaking of which, as I mentioned a while back, hi-def TV or not, what is it with them sometimes wearing yellow uniforms with yellow names and yellow numbers on the back that blend in so nobody can see them? There should be a rule against that. Where's a dress code when you need one?).
If anything this game showed that, despite some wonderfully gifted players, it's just not in UM's DNA (or perhaps ability?) to be able to put the hammer down -- like MSU earlier did to them -- when the other team isn't intimidated and refuses to fold. In other words, Michigan's still soft.
Depending on how the seedings and brackets come down, that could very well be exposed along about the 2nd or 3rd game in the NCAA tournament.
Look at it this way: even though Michigan flirted with being ranked #1 in the country a couple times over the course of the regular season -- do you REALLY think they're Final Four and/or national championship capable? Not me.
Conversely, once the tournament starts, and "home courts" go out the window, who would dare count out Michigan State as a serious contender? There's no consensus team out there this year that is heads and shoulders above everybody else. In fact, there's probably 10-15 teams with a legitimate shot at the title, MSU being one of them.
At this time, certainly no one knows how all the bracketology will work out, but wouldn't it be something if UM and MSU got another crack at each other somewhere down the road in the tournament at a neutral site?
And all things considered -- who do you REALLY think would win that game?
There are teams with histories of being road warriors, and there are teams with histories of melting away like the Wicked Witch of the West when the lights go up and all the pressure is on.
Between UM and MSU hoops -- I just have a hunch who's who......