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 is part of their bigger intrastate competition between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University that exists over a broad spectrum of endeavors including their overall athletic programs: Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans. On the subject, the athletic rivalry comprises the Paul Bunyan Trophy along with the Michigan—Michigan State ice hockey rivalry, but goes to just about all sports and many other forms of achievement. Both groups are members of the Big Ten Conference. The competition has been evidenced both on the court and off the court. One of the off the court elements of this rivalry, recruiting of basketball talent has caused battles, the most noteworthy of which turned to the University of Michigan basketball scandal, the investigation of which started when both schools sought the services of Mateen Cleaves.
Michigan now leads the series, which began on January 9, 1909. As a result of this Big Ten moving to 11 teams with the inclusion of Penn State, teams were not guaranteed two matches against each other. Accordingly, the colleges chose to play one game that did not count as a convention game in 1997. Whenever the Big Ten went to a 20-game conference program in 2018—19, the conference announced the teams would play each other twice in each season.
A 1996 rollover injury during Michigan’s recruiting of Mateen Cleaves resulted in some long investigation surrounding the University of Michigan basketball scandal. Cleaves finally matriculated at Michigan State.
Regardless of the intense competition for basketball recruits and tools and the degree of the rivalry in different sports, the competition hadn’t been intense (as quantified by rankings) on the basketball court before the 2010s when the teams met 7 times in a row as ranked opponents.
On February 12, 2013, for the very first time in the series’ 170-game history, dating back to 1909, the groups met while both were ranked in the Top 10. The Spartans (20—4, 9—2 Big Ten) were rated No. 8 in 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 in the Breslin Center, 75—52. The next month, the two teams were again ranked in the Top 10, this time Michigan was on the winning end of a game played in the Crisler Center, by a score of 58—57.
Indiana Mr. Basketball for 2012, Gary Harris, and 2013 Indiana Mr. Basketball Zak Irvin were teammates at Hamilton Southeastern High School, but Irvin signed with Michigan later Harris had joined Michigan State. The two were best friends from third grade through high school and even wagered on the January 17, 2012 game in high school following both had committed to distinct basketball programs, with Harris having to wear Maize and Blue to get a day as a result.
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