Friday, February 24, 2012

Michigan vs. Rivals

I watch every Michigan Men's basketball game and I can't help but notice that the players seem to bring more intensity to some games over others. The games they seem to have the most energy leading up to game time is when they are going to play Ohio State and Michigan State. There are many reasons why the intensity for these games is higher than against other opponents. Many of them were discussed when Stephen Garcia was our guest lecturer. In case you forgot Garcia talked about how people react to different competitors and why. For example he said that players will be more excited for a game when their opponents rankings are higher. Well this year Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State have all been ranked for almost the entire season. Ohio State has been in the top ten, Michigan State worked their way up into the top ten and Michigan has been somewhere between 11 and 22. These are all all very high rankings considering there are over 300 teams in NCAA college basketball. So each time these teams have matched up there has been a high intensity between them. Another topic he discussed was that the more two opponents are alike the more they will want to beat each other. This is especially the case for the times Michigan plays Michigan State. Not only are they close together geographically, but they constantly compete for recruits and fans throughout the state. Another thing that these teams have in common is all season they have been in competition for the BIG10 championship. To show an example of how the intensity for different games varies I included some links to pictures below. One was taken moments after the wolverines beat Purdue. The players on the court look happy that they won but they do not seem to be to intense. Another is to a picture taken right after Michigan beat Michigan State in this picture we see the players are ecstatic that they have just won.

Picture after win against Purdue:
Picture after win against Michigan State:
Both pictures were taken by Dustin Johnston and posted on


  1. It's clear that when we play a big rival or competitor in or out of the division there's going to be more lead up and more hype over the game. A Michigan win against Wisconsin at home is going to be a lot more exciting and important than a win at home against Northwestern. There is nothing better than beating a rival. A win against a rival, especially at home, gets the students, the fans and the team all pumped and confident in their team. Beating a rival is always a key win for a program, beating a team that's not a rival or a top team is expected. Nobody can really get excited for a win that everybody expected and knew we could get.

  2. Personally, I think it is inevitable that players are going to get more excited about beating a rival. The word is Rival is defined as: "A person or thing competing with another for the same objective or for superiority in the same field of activity" (Webster’s). This definition alone touches on the fact that the two teams are competing for superiority. This touches on your point on how players seem to get more up for "big" games. I also think that rivals are more than just a normal game. Rivalries are not just created because someone said you two teams are now rivals. Rivalries are built over time, and usually there are defining moments in these rivalries. In many cases there have been last second shots and or physical altercations between the two teams. Because of this, the players get a greater satisfaction of beating these teams, because of a personal vendetta. I don't know about you, but as a die-hard Philadelphia sports fan I down right hate the Dallas Cowboys (as well as many other teams). Every year we play the Cowboys twice, and for those two games I find myself even more emotionally invested than I usually am. The thought of Jerry Jones (Cowboys Owner) prancing around following a victory literally makes me cringe. Now imagine the players. If I (a spectator) gets this emotionally invested into a rivalry, you have to expect the players to get "more up" for these rivalry games. I know we sometimes forget, but the players are normal humans too.