We, in the great state of Michigan, now know how it feels for college basketball fans in the Bluegrass State, along Tobacco Road and, to a certain extent, out East.
Kentucky and Louisville fans brag about their high profile basketball programs and their success. So do the folks loyal to Duke and North Carolina, and even the intense followers of Connecticut and Syracuse.
As Michiganders, we always longed for something similar, but could never really feel a balance between UM and MSU. Each school has taken turns at dominating the series. For as intense as the rivalry is supposed to be, they have met just 11 times when both are ranked.
That pales in comparison to the Blue Devils and Tar Heels, who have clashed 71 times as Top 25 foes. But the last seven meetings between the Wolverines and Spartans have been with both sitting in the AP Top 25.
Both Michigan and Michigan State are purging the basketball-laden state of Indiana of some of its best talent. Both have highly-acclaimed coaches, and both are considered strong contenders for the Final Four.
Both teams can win games in different ways, each possess outstanding shooters and together have future NBA first round draft picks.
As much as we love our hockey, baseball and football in Michigan, college basketball has taken center stage over the last few seasons. I can't say this area will ever adopt college hoops like the aforementioned regions, but that's only because of the sports diversity to which we are exposed.
But the recent success both Michigan and Michigan State has made us "care" a lot more, and heightened expectations for both teams. And that's a good thing.
What's even better is that each program has made the other fan base a little more passionate about its school team. Not that Michigan State fans didn't treasure the consistent success, but Michigan's resurgence under John Beilein has made them, perhaps, stop taking it for granted. Sort of like the Red Wings fan base or the Michigan football fan base.
The success Tom Izzo has had in East Lansing has given Beilein and his staff a target that was viewed before as impossible to reach, but now viewed as attainable, if not already met.
It's good to be a Michigan and Michigan State basketball fan these days, or better yet, a college basketball fan in the state.
Matt Shepard is the play-by-play voice of University of Michigan basketball, Eastern Michigan University football and the Detroit Lions television network. He can also be found on TV locally on Fox Sports Detroit and nationally on the Big Ten Network for college hockey and baseball.Learn more.