By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) - Once a member of Michigan's Fab Five and now an analyst for ESPN, Jalen Rose picked against his alma mater when calling who will win Saturday's rivalry matchup between the 21st-ranked Wolverines and No. 3 Michigan State.
At first, Rose hedged, simply describing how good he believes the Spartans to be and giving the Wolverines a chance but admitting it would be a tough task for Michigan to win against Michigan State in Breslin Center. Pressed for clarification, Rose made his pick official.
(About 6 minutes into the interview talks basketball)
"Didn't it sound like it hurt for me to say that I think Sparty's going to win?" Rose said in an interview with WWJ. "Well it did, and yes I do think Michigan State's going to find a way to win on their home court."
Rose does appreciate, though, what Michigan head coach John Beilein has done with the Wolverines, particularly since the team lost one of its stars, Mitch McGary, who projected to be an NBA lottery pick had he left Michigan after the 2012-2013 season.
"Coach Beilein has done a terrific job of surrounding this team, and on the perimeter, with 3-point shooting, led by Nik Stauskas, who's been terrific, especially in the clutch, making big plays out of timeouts," Rose said. "Glenn Robinson III continues to attack the basket, be an efficient, productive player, and when you lose a Preseason All-American like Mitch McGary, all expectations are off, so the team has just let their hair down, spread the 3-point line, knocked down some shots. The Big Ten hasn't been what a lot of people thought it was going to be coming into this season. You see the struggles of Ohio State, you see the struggles of Wisconsin and Indiana.
"But for Michigan and Michigan State – who, Michigan State I feel like is one of the top teams if not the top team in the country when they're healthy – it's been a great run for the Wolverines," Rose added. "Hopefully they can continue to play well at Sparty on Saturday."
On a broader note, Rose was asked why the Michigan and Michigan State basketball programs rarely seemed to peak at the same time, an observation the reporter said Wolverines coach John Beilein made recently and that Spartans coach Tom Izzo had pointed out for years.
In response to that seemingly innocuous query, Rose had plenty to say.
"I'm going to give you a dirty family secret that Michigan State has done better since 1979 than the University of Michigan has," Rose began. "They've done the absolute best job of number one, having staying power, with Jud Heathcote and Tom Izzo, so now the players that played for those two coaches are still a part of the fraternity, they're still welcome as family, whether it's to stand on the sideline at a football game, whether it's to be acknowledged at a basketball game. They feel loved, they feel appreciated.
"Every Michigan coach has left unceremoniously, even the greatest coach in the University of Michigan history, the only coach that's taken the school to three Final Fours and well as won a national championship, Steve Fisher, and also the Fab Five – Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson, Jimmy King – who played in two Final Fours and national championship games, two of the seven that the university has had since the 1900s," Rose continued, his voice rising.
"So when you're not able to have a family-type atmosphere where everybody feels welcome and feels like their contribution to the school is noted from a basketball and or football perspective, the relationships become fractured, and that's something Michigan has to improve on. Michigan State, when you watch their games, it could be a guy that averaged two points, but the fans are going to celebrate him and treat him like he's family. That's why Michigan has lagged behind Michigan State in basketball, and frankly, right now, that's why Michigan State has evened the playing field."
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