In the great history of the great rivalry between Michigan State and Michigan, which sport has provided more Spartan winning than any other? It's not football, it's not men's basketball, and it's not hockey. It's MSU Women's Basketball, with an all-time series lead of 62-16.
The Spartans first played the Wolverines in women's basketball 40 years ago, yet the Lady Weasels have only those 16 wins all-time against MSU. There was one hot streak of UM wins around the turn of the century, but that was only for a short time after Michigan hired the top Michigan State Assistant to be their Head Coach. (Sue Guevara was on track to succeed Karen Langeland as Spartan Coach, but she left for Ann Arbor and won for awhile before crashing into obscurity.)
MSU has had only four head coaches in four decades of basketball, while UM is up to it's ninth head coach in the same span of time. The Wolverines have won only 43% of their games all-time. The Spartans have won more than 60% of career games, including 68% under Coach Suzy Merchant.
Merchant lost her first game against Michigan, then ran off 12 wins in a row before losing by a point at Crisler in February. That last-second loss was sandwiched by two double-digit wins, including the knockout punch in the conference tournament.
The Spartans have held an incredible 4-to-1 (approximate) win-loss ratio for several years, reaching the 40-win mark when UM was around 10 wins in the overall series. The record was 60-15 entering last season (and but for that one-point ballgame, it could easily be 63-15 right now). MSU has won 21 of the last 23 games against Michigan.
The prospects for continuing the streak with another win or two this season are very likely, as we will describe in this series. MSU returns two Seniors and three Juniors with extensive playing experience in recent seasons. UM graduated five of their top six players, returning a very small fraction of their team stats and experience.
The big question for the Spartans will be how many of the three injured players will be able to make a significant contribution this season. The two smaller questions concern the transfer from Auburn who becomes eligible this year, along with the 2013 Michigan Miss Basketball, who will both compete for playing time on the perimeter.
Watch for this series to appear on this web site on MONDAYS for the next five weeks.
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