NCAA BK

Michigan, Michigan St both staying close to home

Share This Story

   
 

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP)

(Eds: With AP Photos.)By NOAH TRISTERAP Sports Writer

Two years ago, Jordan Morgan and Michigan had to play a road game in the NCAA tournament - or so it seemed at first.

The Wolverines were in the round of 32, facing Duke in Charlotte, N.C. It appeared the Blue Devils would have a big advantage until Morgan noticed something about the crowd.

''Duke and North Carolina both played there,'' said Morgan, a 6-foot-8 forward. ''All the North Carolina fans stayed after North Carolina played and cheered for us to beat Duke.''

Now it's Michigan and Michigan State that will share an arena close to home at the start of the tournament. Both teams open Thursday at the Palace in Auburn Hills. The fourth-seeded Wolverines face 13th-seeded South Dakota State in the South Regional, and the third-seeded Spartans take on 14th-seeded Valparaiso in the Midwest.

It should be a fascinating atmosphere - a crowd full of fans wearing maize and blue - or green and white. It's a scenario that's been anticipated for a while, with the Wolverines and Spartans hovering near the top of the Big Ten all season. It became reality Sunday when the tournament pairings were announced.

''I think it's 90 percent positive. You know there's always the 10 percent of keeping players focused,'' Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. ''Sometimes, if you get them away, it's a little better. But to be here for our families, to be here for travel, to be here for a bunch of Spartan fans who'll get to go to the games and save money is good.''

The most interesting question is how fans will handle the week. If South Dakota State takes an early lead over Michigan, will there be a critical mass of Michigan State fans still in the building, cheering for the underdog?

The Spartans play at 12:15 p.m. Thursday. Michigan's game isn't until the night session at 7:15. If both teams win, that's when things could get interesting. There would be two games Saturday - one involving Michigan and one involving Michigan State.

Izzo actually tried to downplay the rivalry a bit in the name of Big Ten solidarity. Whether anyone will take his attitude to heart remains to be seen.

''I am pulling for the Big Ten a lot. I really am. So I hope everybody worries more about their team,'' Izzo said. ''It is unique. I don't remember this happening except in the Final Four with Illinois (in 2005). It was just the opposite. I think our fans were awesome to them and their fans were awesome to us. I'm not expecting the same, and understand why. It's a little earlier in the tournament, but it will be unique.''

The ''pod'' system was introduced in 2002, rewarding top teams by keeping them closer to home and reducing travel. Duke and North Carolina have played in the same arena in their home state - the Blue Devils held on to beat Michigan in that 2011 game.

Elsewhere this year, Louisville will play in Lexington, Ky., Ohio State stays close to home in Dayton, Ohio, and both Kansas and Kansas State will open the tournament in Kansas City, Mo.

Michigan coach John Beilein says regionalizing the tournament is a good idea that can help attendance and reduce travel.

''I think they should even do more of it,'' Beilein said. ''It really makes sense to me. Obviously, it saves two things. It puts more money in the game, and it saves on huge travel expenses, huge, to take teams all over the country.''

As for the underdogs - even South Dakota State doesn't seem too upset about this arrangement. The Jackrabbits made it this far by winning the Summit League tournament, which was played in ... Sioux Falls, S.D.

''It's kind of a taste of our own medicine, really,'' forward Tony Fiegen said.

For some players, part of the charm of the NCAA tournament is a chance to travel to new places. For the Wolverines and Spartans, that can wait.

''You can go either way. It's kind of fun to go somewhere,'' Morgan said. ''At the same time, you can't be disappointed in the advantage that we'll have, paying close to home, less travel.''

Tagged: Michigan State, Michigan, North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, South Dakota State, South Dakota, Jordan Morgan

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



NCAA BK Videos

Georgetown, Syracuse to renew CBK rivalry Posted: Jun 10, 2014
Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson III on the renewal of the rivalry betw...

Cuonzo Martin new head coach at Cal Posted: Apr 16, 2014
Cuonzo Martin is introduced as Cal's new head coach.

UConn tops Notre Dame in women's final Posted: Apr 09, 2014
Hear from Geno Auriemma and his players after their National Championship victor...

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/885881/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_885000/ff_885881_xl.jpg&w=100 74.95 Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black
    Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Georgetown_Hoyas/browse/featuredproduct/1030243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1030000/ff_1030243_xl.jpg&w=100 119.95 Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue
    Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Duke_Blue_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/1032710/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1032000/ff_1032710_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue
    Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oregon_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/1052002/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052002_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green
    Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/1052645/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052645_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet
    Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Indiana_Hoosiers/browse/featuredproduct/1124528/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1124000/ff_1124528_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Cri..
    adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Louisville_Cardinals/browse/featuredproduct/1127200/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127200_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/1127218/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127218_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey ..
    Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Gonzaga_Bulldogs/browse/featuredproduct/1155821/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1155000/ff_1155821_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue
    Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Champions Adjustable Hat – Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Hurricanes/browse/featuredproduct/1177723/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1177000/ff_1177723_xl.jpg&w=100 25.95 Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Cham..