It will be a fitting end to a crazy 2020-21 college basketball season to see Michigan and Michigan State in a pair of back-to-back games.
Due to COVID-19 issues for both programs during the season, the Spartans (14-10, 8-10 Big Ten) and Wolverines (18-2, 13-2) find themselves closing out the season against each other, twice.
The first of two games takes place Thursday at 7 p.m. (ESPN) from Crisler Center. The two will then meet again on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. (CBS) from the Breslin Center.
MSU looking to play spoiler to U-M’s title hopes
This weekend’s doubleheader got more intriguing on Tuesday night.
Michigan needed a win over No. 4 Illinois to secure the Big Ten regular-season title. Instead, the Wolverines were throttled at home 76-53 by the Illini.
It was an uncharacteristic performance by Juwan Howard’s men. Michigan hit just two 3-pointers and shot 34 percent from the field.
Michigan and Illinois are listed as tied atop the Big Ten, but Illinois still has two more losses than the Wolverines.
For Michigan State to play spoiler, the Spartans would have to win both games over Michigan.
The Spartans were 10-9 just a few weeks ago and looking like they could miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997.
Since that time, MSU earned wins over Illinois and Ohio State. On Tuesday, the Spartans grinded out a 64-58 win over Indiana.
MSU’s tournament chances seem much stronger now, but a win over Michigan would certainly secure their spot.
Either way, this week’s games will add to the lure of the MSU and Michigan rivalry. Michigan leads the all-time history, 94-85. The Wolverines won the last outing, 77-68, last February.
Here’s a look at three thrilling finishes in the recent rivalry between these two NCAA basketball teams.
1. Feb. 24, 2004 – MSU 72, Michigan 69
The Wolverines seemed on their way to a big upset at home, leading 52-40 midway through the second half.
Kelvin Torbert then got hot, scoring 12 of MSU’s next 15 points to get the Spartans back in the mix.
Paul Davis had a putback dunk to tie the game at 57-57 with six mix minutes to play.
MSU would eventually take a 63-61 lead on an Alan Anderson and MSU sealed up the win at the free-throw line from there.
Chris Hill finished with 19 points while Torbert had 18 for Michigan State, who would eventually finish 12-4 in the Big Ten.
Michigan was led by Courtney Sims, who had 19 points and nine rebounds. The loss would be a big one for Michigan, who missed out on the NCAA Tournament at 23-11 and 8-8 in the Big Ten. The Wolverines eventually went on to win the NIT Tournament under Tommy Amaker.
2. Jan. 26, 2010 – MSU 57, Michigan 56
It was another upset bid gone awry for Michigan.
The Wolverines had No. 5 MSU on the ropes in Ann Arbor, but couldn’t find a way to close things out.
Michigan led 56-55 in the final minute, only to see Kalin Lucas knock down a go-ahead jumper with just 3.5 seconds left on the clock.
Michigan had a chance to respond, but an alley-oop attempt by DeShawn Sims rolled off the rim as time expired.
Lucas finished with 12 points for Michigan State while Raymar Morgan had a game-high 20 points with eight rebounds. Draymond Green added 10 points and seven boards.
Sims led Michigan with 19 points and five rebounds while Manny Harris had 16 points with five assists and five steals.
Michigan State eventually won the Big Ten title that season and went 28-9, reaching its sixth Final Four under Tom Izzo.
Michigan went just 15-17 in John Beilein’s third season as head coach.
3. March 3, 2013 – Michigan 58, MSU 57
In a battle of two top-10 teams, Trey Burke added to his Michigan legend on this night.
The fourth-ranked Wolverines had let a 10-point lead slip away at home against No. 9 Michigan State.
Burke would be defending Keith Appling, who was looking to wind down the clock for a final shot with the score at 56-56. Burke came through with a steal, taking the ball away and going to the other end for the game-winning dunk with 22 seconds to play.
Derrick Nix would get fouled with 8.8 seconds to play, but he missed one of two free throws. The Spartans had one more chance to win with 4.9 seconds remaining, but Burke stole a pass from Gary Harris to lock up the win.
Burke finished with 21 points, eight assists and five steals while Mitch McGary had 11 points.
Adreian Payne had 17 points and 12 rebounds to lead MSU, while Harris finished with 16 points.
The Spartans finished the season 27-9 and second in the Big Ten. MSU would reach the Sweet 16.
Michigan went 31-8 and placed fourth in the conference, but would reach the NCAA Tournament final behind Burke’s play. Burke would go on to be named National Player of the Year.