"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Marquette and Michigan State: Charting Recent Progress

The following amazing statment is from Decourcy's Daily Dish at TSN

Michigan State hasn't beaten a ranked team in two years.

Let me repeat that, in case you think you misread that last sentence.

Michigan State hasn't beaten a ranked team in two years.

After you let that sink in, allow me to put it in this perspective for you: Since the departure of Dwayne Wade and our last Final Final four--over that same two year period of ranked futility for MSU, Marquette has racked up 4 wins against ranked teams--against 5 losses. A most-respectable near-.500 record.

And I have to admit--I wasn't 100% sure DeCourcy was right. So I went back through the records. Going back through the almanac, you'll find that MSU lost to their only ranked opponent so far this year (Duke), all 8 they faced in 03-04 (Kansas, Duke, Kentucky, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Illinois, Wisconsin and Wisconsin). And the picture could be worse, this year Wisconsin and George Washington were unranked when they defeated the Spartans--each team moving up in the next poll.

Marquette fans have long measured the success of their program compared to Michigan State ever since the arrival of Tom Crean. Since March 30, 1999, Tom Crean's program has been viewed as the poor cousin to the Spartans. Whether it's coming in second in the battle for recruits, less respect from the TV talking-heads or pollsters, or simply living under the biblical-like prophecy that when Tom Izzo decides to leave MSU, Tom Crean will simply move up the ladder to the always more-successful Spartans, MU fans have looked up to Michigan State as the program-we-most-aspire-to.

Given the recent success of Marquette vis-a-vis MSU, I believe its time for MU fans to stop with the Izzo-as-Mentor-Crean-as-Understudy storyline and recognize Tom Crean for his own mark--the one he's putting on the Marquette program. This is not to dump on Michigan State. Its still a great program--one of the best in the Big Ten. It's just time for Marquette fans recognize how far Marquette has come over the past six seasons. Our coach doesn't have to leave to find a place where he can beat top 25 programs. He's already found it.

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