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The Wolverines may have more quickness with shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. going against Gary Harris and when Robinson or Nik Stauskas have the ball, or are running around screens, while being guarded by Branden Dawson.

“It should make for a heck of a game,” Izzo said. “It’s fun to actually feel like the game matters in every way shape or form both locally and nationally. I’m not sure that has happened since I’ve been here where both are important.”

No, it hasn’t.

The closest both teams have been to being Top 10 teams when they’ve played was March 3, 1990, when Izzo was an assistant under Jud Heathcote, and the 14th-ranked Spartans beat No. 8 Michigan 78-70.

For the first of two highly anticipated matchups of the rivals, Payne predicts the Breslin Center will be “shaking” with fired-up fans.

Burke doesn’t expect crowd noise to rattle the Wolverines, who have played in raucous arenas at Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio State.

“We’re used to it,” he said.


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