On February 18th, Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans will travel to Ann Arbor to face off against Juwan Howard and the Michigan Wolverines at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, MI. To this point, the Howard-Izzo rivalry has been entertaining, and it could get even better later this month.
In 2019-20, Juwan Howard took over as the head coach of Michigan basketball — it was a bold move by the Wolverines’ athletic department but one that appeared to be paying off at the time. Despite an up-and-down season, Howard’s first Michigan team was a tournament-caliber team (despite the tournament’s cancelation due to COVID-19) and split its series with one of the best Michigan State teams ever assembled.
Izzo pulled off a similar upset in 2021, when Howard’s Big Ten Championship-winning Wolverines were defeated on the road by Izzo’s struggling Spartans. It is a phenomenon that appears to be inevitable at this point: Izzo and Howard trading blows annually.
Juwan Howard, Tom Izzo remain deadlocked
In Howard’s first meeting with Izzo, he was handed a crushing defeat by one of the best Big Ten basketball coaches of all-time. Still, in the two coaches’ second meeting (in Ann Arbor), Howard escaped with a 9-point victory. This is indicative of how the series has played out thus far — the two appear to trade blows every year; Izzo is yet to beat Howard in Ann Arbor, and Howard is yet to beat Izzo in East Lansing.
Heading into the season, Howard and Izzo were deadlocked at 3-3 in head-to-head games. Earlier this season, Izzo’s Spartans managed to take down Howard’s Wolverines in East Lansing, 59-53, in an abnormally poor shooting night for both teams. Now, we sit just ten days from the 2022-23 Howard vs. Izzo rematch in Ann Arbor — Izzo will either buck the trend, or Howard will tie the series back up.
One thing is for sure: these two heavyweights have given us one of the most entertaining basketball rivalry series in a long time — on February 18th, we should be in store for yet another Howard-Izzo classic at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor. Regardless of the outcome, the Howard-Izzo series should get even more entertaining this year as both should have similar conference and overall records come gameday.
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