UConn and Michigan State have collided four times since 1998. Each has gutted out two wins.
And that seems to be the operative term. When these two teams get together, it’s often a battle of mental and physical toughness. In three regular season meetings, the winner of Michigan State-UConn has gone on to win the national championship. The other clash was in the Final Four. Let’s take a look back:
2010 — Kemba Walker scored 30 points, Alex Oriakhi added 15 and grabbed 17 rebounds and UConn, unranked at the time, put itself on the national map in a big way. This Maui Invitational semifinal, a dramatic 70-67 win, would set the tone for what turned into the program’s most incredible championship season.
2009 — Essentially playing an away game at the 2009 Final Four, UConn was handed an 82-73 defeat and an early exit from Detroit. It remains the program’s only Final Four loss (the Huskies are 6-1 all-time). A.J. Price, brilliant all season, wasn’t his normal self and the Spartans, as Jim Calhoun put it, were a “different team.”
“We played the same teams they did,” he said. “We played Purdue and Michigan, we beat Wisconsin by 20. But that team was different from what I saw on film.”
2000 — The eighth-ranked Spartans put a hurting on the seventh-ranked Huskies — 85-66 — in an early February matchup that proved to be an accurate indicator of each team’s future. Led by Morris Peterson and Mateen Cleaves, Michigan State went on the win the national championship, blowing six teams away by double-figures in their NCAA tournament run. UConn, the defending champ, bowed out in the second round.
1998 — Khalid El-Amin, Jake Voskuhl and Kevin Freeman combined for 53 points as No. 1 UConn coasted past the ninth-ranked Spartans, 82-68. Though it was only December, it was clear that these two teams were going places. Both would end up in the Final Four, and the Huskies finished the year with their first national championship.