On Saturday, Michigan will carry a pristine 3-0 record in Big Ten play into East Lansing, where a fierce rivalry game awaits with the Spartans.
To this point, Michigan’s only other true road game has been in Minneapolis against an underwhelming Minnesota team. Needless to say, the Breslin Center will present a more challenging atmosphere, especially for a young team not accustomed to environments of that type.
“I just did Michigan State radio and they said, ‘Well, how will Dug McDaniel handle it?’” Phil Martelli said Friday. “And I said, ‘I don’t know if he’s ever played on a court that’s shaking when he’s dribbling the ball on the floor. How do you prepare for that? How do you tell somebody that that’s real? But it’s real.”
On paper, this isn’t a classic rendition of the rivalry. Neither team is ranked, and both have struggled at different points this season. But, there’s plenty at stake — both Michigan and Michigan State are showing signs of life, with the Wolverines riding a two-game win streak and the Spartans having won five in a row.
The matchup, then, is pivotal.
“To me, college basketball should be about memories,” Martelli said. “This game, and the game in Ann Arbor, and hopefully the third game in the Big Ten Tournament, these are the games that create memories for a lifetime.”
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