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Spartans, Wolverines to meet twice in four days

The rivals square off Thursday and Sunday
Posted at 9:05 AM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 09:05:07-05
Rivals to play twice in four days

Tuesday was a rare occurrence this season, Michigan lost a basketball game for the just the second time this year and first since January 16th, the Wolverines lost to Illinois.

It was the first of three chances for the Maize and Blue to claim the outright Big Ten regular season title.

"We can't get complacent, we can't get ahead of a game, we can't think of Michigan State and think about the bubble and all that, Indianapolis," senior forward Isaiah Livers said. "We got to focus on each game."

Next up for Michigan are the final two games of the regular season, both against Michigan State. Thursday in Ann Arbor and Sunday in East Lansing.

The only other time the Wolverines lost a game this season they responded with seven straight wins.

"This is a game truly you can learn from," head coach Juwan Howard said about Tuesday's loss to the Illini. "We will learn from a loss like this and the type of performance that we gave tonight was not acceptable at all, we are going to come in tomorrow watch film and see what areas we can improve on. This is going to be, I call it a horror film because there was many possessions where we didn't do a good job and we didn't compete at the level we are capable of."

The Spartans head into the double dip winners of four of their last five and perhaps with one foot in the NCAA Tournament field which would extend thier streak of making the big dance to 23 straight.

A win over Michigan would solidify it.

"We do believe here that pressure is a privilege," head coach Tom Izzo said. "I've been here when we weren't playing for anything and we had no pressure and we had no fun, so pressure is a privilege."

The games with second ranked Michigan will mark the third and fourth against opponents ranked in the top five in a 13 day stretch.

The first two against Ohio State and Illinois were Spartan wins.

"Daunting? Yes. Exciting? Yes. Nerve racking? Yes," Izzo said about the two week stretch to conclude the regular season. "You can pick anything you want, it's tough. I tell my players all the time, I thought is why you come to school at a place like this, so I am excited."

Game one is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday on ESPN and game two for Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on CBS.