From Michigan State’s perspective, Ohio State’s 67-58 stunner at Indiana Tuesday night is awesome and disheartening all at once.
The Spartans must feel somewhat as if they’ve blown a chance at an outright Big Ten championship. Or, at the very least, having a shared title within their control.
Conversely, this ain’t over. And, for MSU, that’s better than it being over. Which it seemed it was until Tuesday night.
“I don’t see Indiana losing twice,” Derrick Nix said after MSU’s loss at Michigan Sunday.
One down, one to go.
The Hoosiers close the regular season at Michigan Sunday. And, should the Wolverines win, there could be four-way shared title (Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State and either MSU or Wisconsin). That’s a lot banners. And, in my opinion, like last year, makes the Big Ten tournament worth a little more.
The entertainment Tuesday night, for me, was also in seeing Aaron Craft play so well (15 points, 4 assists, 4 steals), and do so when it mattered most.
And then, of course, all the emails and tweets that followed about this “rosey cheeked white guy” turning in an All-Big Ten-worthy performance — the reaction mostly stemming from this blog I wrote on Feb. 25:
Which followed this column about Appling’s struggles at Ohio State and the Spartans’ over-respect of Craft’s offensive game.
Many of the tweets and emails were good-natured ribbing. A few, from the Buckeyes crowd, were expectedly less light-hearted (Not surprising, given that in a straw poll of college football fans visiting East Lansing last fall, Ohio State fans were universally considered the most uncouth.).
Craft was fantastic Tuesday. As he was against MSU.
It doesn’t change the column or the blog. He still receives more hype than he would if he were black and that has been the case throughout his college career. So many around the sport — mostly those not wearing scarlet and gray briefs this morning — agree with me on this.
I never said Craft was a bad player. Quite the opposite. I’d want him on my team. I never said I disliked him. I don’t know him beyond a couple press conferences. I simply disapprove the how the media has over-publicized him.
A few days after the blog, I received these tweets from @MDJones_20.
“Just wanted to say I am using your Aaron Craft article for a paper I am writing about perceptions of race.”
“People upset by that article are out of touch or afraid to talk about race like most people in this country.”
“So many people viewed it as an attack because you were ‘jealous’ or something but it was just a social observation.”
I don’t believe you’ll find a black player or coach in college basketball who doesn’t agree with me on this.
Craft may play his way onto the Big Ten’s first team. But it shouldn’t be in front of DeShaun Thomas, Trey Burke, Cody Zeller or Victor Oladipo.
And, if he takes the final spot, ahead of Tim Hardaway Jr., D.J. Richardson, Gary Harris, Andre Hollins, Adreian Payne or Trevor Mbakwe, let’s make sure we first imagine how we’d perceived each of those guys if they, too, were white.