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Posted on Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : noon

Tom Izzo: The Michigan-Michigan State basketball game isn't 'life and death'

By Nick Baumgardner

For the first time since 1998, the Michigan State and Michigan basketball programs will meet as ranked teams.

The game Tuesday (7 p.m., ESPN) certainly be a landmark game in terms of national attention, but is it any more important?

Maybe not.

"I don't think for either team it's life and death," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said Monday on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. "There's going to be a lot of losses and, hopefully, a lot of wins left, for both of us."


Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo: "You never want to lose three in a row to anybody. When it's your in-state rival, it's always more important."

Associated Press

Both Michigan State (15-3, 4-1 Big Ten) and Michigan (14-4, 4-2 Big Ten) suffered losses last week, but aren't likely to fall completely from the national rankings, as the Spartans sat at No. 6 in The Associated Press Top 25 poll a week ago, while the Wolverines were No. 13.

Michigan is now No. 20 in the AP poll, while Michigan State sits at No. 9.

The last time both the Wolverines and Spartans met as ranked opponents was Feb. 22, 1998. That day, No. 14 Michigan State grabbed an 80-75 victory against No. 22 Michigan in East Lansing.

Perhaps more notable, though, is the fact that Michigan can earn its third consecutive victory against the Spartans. The Wolverines swept the season series a year ago.

The last time Michigan won more than two in a row against Michigan State was a five-game winning streak from 1996-98.

So while the idea of two ranked opponents squaring off in January doesn't bring about a life and death situation, Izzo says the chance to avoid a three-game losing streak to one of his biggest rivals does make things interesting.


Visit for a live chat during the Michigan vs. Michigan State game on Tuesday night. Sports reporters Nick Baumgardner and Kyle Meinke will kick things off from the Crisler Center at 6:30 p.m., 30 minutes before tipoff.

"You never want to lose three in a row to anybody," he said. "When it's your in-state rival, it's always more important.

"It think when you've got two ranked teams, it stokes the fire a little bit. It's not Duke-North Carolina yet, but everybody hopes it will be. And if both teams are ranked year after year playing each other, then (maybe) that's what it turns into."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.

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Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 8:28 p.m.

Izzo has always wanted a big rivalry that could challenge Duke-NC. Michigan hasn't done it's part until last year. With State bringing in the Nation's 3rd ranked class and Michigan bringing in the 5th ranked class in 2012 this rivalry could reach new heights. Should be a good game tonight.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

a little perspective, please-------by izzo's comments you'd think the game was going to be played in A2 in front of michigan's fans-------------oh, wait------it is. don't mistake his self-interest for altruism.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 6:52 p.m.

Does Coach Dantonio know about these comments by Izzo? He's gonna blow a gasket!


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

Izzo is a class act

Larry Weisenthal

Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

Great, positive comments by Coach Izzo. Would that all M/MSU fans showed the same degree of class.