Michigan State basketball playing for more than just Big Ten title Sunday

A better ending to the Big Ten Championship Tournament could not have been scripted.

One of the most bitter rivalries in college basketball and a wildly entertaining spectacle whenever the two schools meet: Michigan State and Michigan.

The storyline heading into Sunday’s title game is a little different than what most Spartan fans are used to when prepping for a showdown with their interstate rival.

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Guard Gary Harris scored 12 points in MSU’s win against Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament semifinals, Saturday.

Michigan has owned Sparty this year, both in Ann Arbor and at the Breslin Center.

The Wolverines used a scorching perimeter shooting attack to blow past MSU in East Lansing. A few weeks later, coach Tom Izzo took a battered and broken Michigan State roster to UofM and lost again.

So Sunday becomes a chance for redemption for MSU. This team is the healthiest it has been in quite some time and is slowly showing signs of crucial postseason form.

Still, Michigan is regarded by many as the best team in the Big Ten and holds the psychological advantage in Sunday’s game with both hands.

With some of the most improved players in college basketball such as Nik Stauskas and Glen Robinson III, the Wolverines are poised and prepared for a return to the Final Four.

But the Spartans know they are lucky to be in Sunday’s championship matchup after the turbulent season they have had. A chip lies on MSU’s collective shoulder.

MSU is looking to expel the notion that it has been knocked off its pedestal as the superior college basketball program in the state.

Sunday is about more than just a championship trophy for the Spartans, it is about satisfaction and national perception.

Sparty is playing Sunday for two of the most valued intangibles in all of sports: Pride and bragging rights against a bitter archrival.