Not that the Wisconsin-Michigan State rivalry needed any more storylines, but Goran Suton added some fuel to the fire after Friday's practice.
"They're dirty," Suton told the Lansing State Journal. "They push, they hold."
Suton wasn't done.
"I don't like Wisconsin, I don't think it's any secret," he said. "I don't think they like us either. I like Michigan more than Wisconsin. That's pretty bad."
That is pretty bad, but who can blame him? Bo Ryan holds an 11-3 record against Tom Izzo, but it's the way the Badgers have beat Michigan State that makes it easy to understand why Suton doesn't care for Wisconsin.
In 2005, when Suton was redshirting his freshman season, the Spartans blew a 9-point lead with two minutes remaining and the Badgers stole a game at the Kohl Center.
In 2007, Kammron Taylor ended Michigan State's upset bid when he knocked down a 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds remaining to give UW a 52-50 win in Madison.
Finally, last season in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, the Spartans blew a 12-point second half lead as Wisconsin won 64-62.
"I don't like Wisconsin, I don't think it's any secret," Suton told the Lansing State Journal. "I don't think they like us either. I like Michigan more than Wisconsin. That's pretty bad."
And those are just the games involving Suton. In 2002, the Badgers ended MSU's 53-game winning streak at the Breslin Center when they erased a 10-point deficit and won by one point. Then in 2004, Devin Harris interferred with MSU's Big Ten title hopes by knocking down a game-tying 3-pointer in East Lansing and two weeks later he did the same in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
As they say, Bo owns Izzo.
And what a surprise, the Badgers can mess with Sparty's run at the conference title once again. Michigan State only has a half game lead on Purdue and a loss would pull the Boilermakers even at the top of the Big Ten.
But the catch is that this game is just as important for Wisconsin, which still needs a great resume win. And despite Ryan's dominance in the series, UW has not won at the Breslin Center since 2004, including the big blow Izzo gave Ryan when the Spartans beat the Badgers in 2007 just a day after UW was crowned the AP's No. 1 ranked team.
And after what happened in the Big Ten Tournament last season, you better believe the Spartans will come out with a purpose Sunday. I was in the Michigan State locker room after that crushing defeat in last year's conference tournament and tensions were unbelievably high to say the least. Izzo was in tears; Drew Naymick refused to talk--I mean, he talked, but he refused to answer any question with more than three words; and Drew Neitzel was angry and clearly frustrated that Michael Flowers had gotten the best of him once again.
You got the sense they had had enough. Unfortunately for Neitzel and Naymick they would never get the chance to get redemption, but for Goran Suton and Travis Walton they get at least one more shot.
Dirty or not, Sunday's game will be a physical, emotional battle, but no matter what happens, I got a feeling Bo Ryan won't be crying after the game.