The Michigan–Michigan State basketball rivalry is a school basketball competition between Michigan Wolverines men’s basketball and Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball that’s part of their bigger intrastate rivalry between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University that exists across a broad spectrum of endeavors including their general athletic programs: Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans. On the subject, the athletic rivalry comprises the Paul Bunyan Trophy and the Michigan–Michigan State hockey baseball competition, but extends to almost all sports and many other forms of achievement. Both teams are members of the Big Ten Conference. The competition has been evidenced both to the court and off the court. Among the off the court elements of this rivalry, recruitment of basketball talent has resulted in battles, the most noteworthy of which turned to the University of Michigan basketball scandal, the investigation of that started when both schools sought the professional services of Mateen Cleaves.
Michigan now leads the series, which started on January 9, 1909. As a result of this Big Ten moving to 11 teams with the addition of Penn State, teams weren’t guaranteed two games against each other. Accordingly, the schools opted to play 1 game that did not count as a conference game in 1997. Whenever the Big Ten went into a 20-game conference program in 2018–19, the conference declared the teams would always play each other two in every season.
A 1996 rollover accident throughout Michigan’s recruitment of Mateen Cleaves resulted in a very long investigation surrounding the University of Michigan basketball scandal. Cleaves eventually matriculated at Michigan State.
Despite the intense competition for basketball recruits and tools along with the degree of the rivalry in other sports, the rivalry had not been intense (as measured by rankings) on the basketball court before the 2010s when the teams met seven days in a row as ranked opponents.
On February 12, 2013, for the very first time in the show’ 170-game history, dating back to 1909, the teams met while both were ranked in the Top 10. The Spartans (20–4, 9–2 Big Ten) were rated No. 8 in both the AP Top 25 Poll and USA Today Coaches Poll, while the Wolverines (21–3, 8–3 Big Ten) came in ranked No. 4 in the AP poll and No. 5 in the coaches poll. Michigan State won the game at the Breslin Center, 75–52. The next month, both teams were once again ranked in the Top 10, this time Michigan was on the winning end of a game played at the Crisler Center, with a score of 58–57.
Indiana Mr. Basketball for 2012, Gary Harris, and 2013 Indiana Mr. Basketball Zak Irvin were teammates in Hamilton Southeastern High School, but Irvin signed with Michigan after Harris had joined Michigan State. The two were best buddies from third grade through high school as well as wagered on the January 17, 2012 match in high school after both had dedicated to distinct basketball programs, with Harris needing to use Maize and Blue for a day as a result.
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