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Monday, February 24, 2014


Much of the excitement felt by Michigan Basketball fans right now is based on a very short viewpoint of the series between MSU and UM. As long as they define the world by increments of eight-games or three-games (or less), they wind up looking good and feeling good. We summed it up pretty good in this article right here.

But what about the two games NOT PLAYED between these two teams only a few years ago? Who remembers that the league office gave the Wolverines a little helpful protection against their arch-rival by scheduling only one league game in 2008 and 2009? One could call it a "quirk" in scheduling, or perhaps less politely, an example of the "Delany Doctrine", under which Michigan and Ohio STATE get special favors on a regular basis from the B1G.

Either way, those games weren't played, and there wasn't much of a good way to bring it up until now. What were we going to say back then, when MSU was winning more than 75% of the games played between the teams? (If we brought it up when it was happening, we would have looked like greedy bullies.)

But I was aware of the missing games at the time they weren't played, much as I was aware the the UM football team had a rapist member ever since the assault was first reported.

Let's give a round of applause to the Wolverines for winning the last three games, but since the battle-cry now is "6 of the last 8", let's take a look at what may have been plausible had the teams played the normal two-game set in those two recent seasons.

  • In those single-game seasons, the Spartans won both games by double-digits, 27 points total. At face-value, it's reasonable to assume that a second game in each season would have gone green. If those rematches had been played both years, with similar results, the "6 of the last 8" would have to give way to "6 of the last 14", focusing the spotlight on very recent success by UM.

  • Or what if the two single-game seasons had been scheduled for 2011 or 2014, when Michigan won both games. With only one rivalry win in each of those two seasons, the mantra would change from "6 of the last 8" to "4 of the last 6" which would also added up to "4 of the last 10".

Whether it was a scheduling-quirk or protection from the league office, the recent irregularity with games-played in the series contributes to the current viewpoints. This decision has nothing to do with on-court performances or even off-court issues; it's just an administrative arrangement that served to make UM look a little bit more dominant than they have actually been in real life.

But hey, the Bluebloods won fair-and-square, and that certainly makes it three in a row by an average of five points per game. Awesome, baby. Now UM fans need to decide whether they can really get pumped about rugby wins in the 1800s when jaw-jacking about their football program.

If you can't look back 10 years in
basketball, you definitely can't look back
100 years in football.

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  1. Aren't you pushing a little too far on this idea of a "Delany doctrine" that favors OSU and UM? I mean, isn't MSU vs UM football scheduled two years in a row in EL (2013 and 2014)?

    1. I'm not a major proponent of the "Delany Doctrine", but I'm aware that people believe in it. I would hate to think it was really true, but people say it is.

      The back-to-back home games for MSU against UM are an anomaly, but as far as favoritism, we'd have to host them quite a few more times to even up the series, even counting only since MSU joined the Big Ten.

      Then again, the UM Women had a peak season last year with a five-member senior class that accounted for about 80% of every stat category. With one starter returning, they were scheduled to play MSU only once, and it was at Crisler. How about that?


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