A Michigan-Ohio State basketball rivalry? Thad Matta says it's just 'the next game'
ANN ARBOR -- There's no point in questioning the magnitude of the rivalry that exists between Michigan and Ohio State on the football field.
It's huge. The annual clash is affectionately referred to as "The Game."
But on the basketball court? Ohio State coach Thad Matta doesn't exactly see it that way.
It's only "the next game."
"I think that it's probably more along the lines of a great Big Ten matchup, just in terms of where this league is this year," Matta said Monday on the Big Ten teleconference. "It's hard. From game to game you're always playing a great basketball team.
"You don't think too much along those lines in terms of the rivalry, you think more in terms of 'hey, this is the next game,' we've got to try and play well."
Michigan (20-2, 7-2) will look to avenge a loss at Ohio State (17-4, 7-2) last month when the Buckeyes visit Crisler Center on Tuesday (9 p.m., ESPN).
Matta's Buckeyes have had tremendous success against the Wolverines since he arrived in Columbus in 2004 -- going 17-3 against the Wolverines during that stretch.
It hasn't been much of a "rivalry" in terms of on-court competition lately, though the game is starting to get more attention now that both programs are regarded among the nation's elite this season.
But for Matta, one game can't mean that much more than anything else.
"You look at the job coach (John) Beilein has done at building that program, they're playing at a tremendously high level," Matta said. "I've always said this when people compare it to football-basketball. We just played them a couple weeks ago and we might play them again in March in the Big Ten Tournament."
Beilein's take on the situation? He steals Brady Hoke's line now and again, referring to Ohio State as "Ohio," but in the end, he doesn't seem to completely disagree with Matta.
On top of that, he says his team needs to start winning a few more games if this is going to be seen as a heated rivalry between two schools.
"In the last decade or so, Ohio State has really done very well against Michigan in basketball," Beilein said. "We're finally getting up to the point between our facilities and our recruiting, we've been in catchup with a lot of Big Ten teams.
"We'll find out in years to come how caught up we are, but (Ohio State has) a tremendous program, they have a very, very fertile recruiting base down there. Thad Matta's a terrific, terrific coach with a great staff and they've done a great job. We're trying to play catchup with a lot of teams in the Big Ten, in last decade, who have had a lot of great success."
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