We offered a five-year comparison before the first meeting this year, and a ten-year comparison along with a 25-game summary before the game just played. The short-run trend is clear, with UM winning six of the last eight games, despite being outscored by MSU in that same time span. It's this most recent short stretch, featuring a pair of one-point wins by Michigan, that is leading many wolverine boosters to claim dominance in the series.
However, as much as they have won 6 of the last 8, they have also won only 6 of the last 12. So how you view the series clearly depends on what time-frame used for comparison. We offer three frameworks for review, each covering a different length of time.
The Short View (5-8 games)
Michigan has come out on top more times in the last few meetings, winning three-of-the-last-five and/or six-of-the-last-eight games. By any recent comparison, UM has the lead in games won, despite giving up two double-digit wins to MSU without any of their own. Most short-term game-counts that favor Michigan include two victories by one-point each that have the effect of counter-balancing the big Spartan wins in the same time period.
The Intermediate View (The Beilein Era)
The series is now tied at 7-7 since John Beilein was named coach at Michigan. Michigan State has outscored UM by 54 points over the last 14 games, and leads 6-5 in games decided by more than one point, all double-digit victories. The Wolverines have only one win by more than ten points, and it was in the second game Beilein coached against Izzo.
The Long View (21st Century)
There have been 26 games since New Year's Eve 2000, and the Spartans lead 17-9, outscoring the Wolverines by 248 points. 15 of the MSU wins have been by double-digits, while four of the UM wins have been by two points or less.
You could go back further in time and still find a few more Spartan wins in a row, then the series would "even out again" in the 1990s, though many of those illegal Wolverine wins have been revoked by the NCAA, leaving their true status as games-played somewhat ambiguous. But there is no reason to track back in time to the days of the covered wagon, as UM fanatics like to do with their so-called "All-Time Wins" record in football. There is really no reason to go back to the days when our predecessors were called the "Aggies" and when MSU didn't actually exist.
(If someone wants to count up the series record from the time Michigan State joined the Big Ten, please go ahead and share with us. Otherwise, we'll use the 21st Century as the long-view measuring stick.)
So the Spartans failed to stem the tide of single-digit wins by UM as they lost the regular season series for the second time this century. We will update the series comparisons when both tournaments are finished.
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