Ann Arbor – Michigan basketball coach John Beilein does not hate Michigan State. Never has. Never will.
That’s just not his style.
The in-state rivals – Michigan State is ranked No. 4 and Michigan is unranked – face each other on Saturday at the Breslin Center, in their only regular-season meeting of the year.
Beilein was asked about a comment Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has made about respecting, but not liking, Michigan’s program. Beilein responded before the question was completed.
“He doesn’t like us. I’m not a hater,” Beilien said Friday at a news conference. “I love Michigan. I don’t care about any other, I don’t hate any other team. I love Michigan.”
Beilein certainly understands the depth of the rivalry and while it is important on many levels, one game, any game, never defines a team, he said.
“We know how our fan base loves this game,” he said. “We hate to lose it because we know we’ve got to put up with a whole year of it. I try to look at this broad picture of college basketball and don’t get too much into one game over another.
“I really try to focus on: This is a great game, and we want to win it every year. But I’m not going to allow myself or our program to be judged on how we did in this one game. What is the big picture of what we’re doing? Are we competitive? Are we graduating? Do we have good kids? Are we representing Michigan? That’s what we want. I’ll be very happy, happy if we win, but I won’t be hating Michigan State if they beat us or hate them before or afterward.”
Michigan at Michigan State
Tip-off: Noon Saturday, Breslin Center, East Lansing
TV/radio: Fox/760, 950
Records: No. 4 Michigan State 16-2, 4-1 Big Ten; Michigan 14-4, 3-2
Outlook: Michigan State has won five of the past six meetings and three of the past five games in East Lansing by at least 10 points.