(WXYZ) - As the big showdown between No. 4 Michigan and No. 8 Michigan State sets to get underway tonight from East Lansing, players and coaches from both sides share their thoughts on the rivalry and the magnitude of this game.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo says, "I think it's fun to feel like the game matters in every way, shape and form, both locally and nationally."
Junior MSU guard Keith Appling adds, "I look forward to it every year. Michigan has always been a team that gives us their all."
Junior U of M guard Tim Hardaway Jr. also knows the importance of Tuesday's contest. He says, "Both programs don't like each other, but the respect is there. You see everybody's giving it their all, which makes you want to do everything [we] can to help the team out." He continues, "Egos have to be set aside, and [everybody's] got to play for the team."
The game should serve as a good measuring stick for both squads to find out where they stand within a powerful Big Ten Conference.
Izzo comments, "It's games like this that give you a chance to see where you are, and I don't think there's any question that I'm excited to see where we are."
Michigan's head coach, John Beilein, also talks about the big game and the rigorous Big10 schedule by comparing it to a rival conference.
Beilein says, "The ACC was a monster [conference] with Maryland, Duke, Virginia, North Carolina, North Carolina State -- all really good teams -- and I watched those games thinking, 'wow, there's a top-two team playing a top-eight team -- those games are wars -- I wonder what that would be like.'"
Coach Izzo doesn't seem too worried about the challenge saying, "I don't feel threatened, I don't feel overly excited. I think it's the way it's supposed to be. I think it's the way it should be."
Izzo sums up the pregame hype perfectly by saying, "Two top 10 teams... I mean how often has that happened here?" To which a reporter replied "This is the first time"
"Ever?," asked Izzo before pausing. "Surprise, surprise."