TWO SPARTAN TEAMS OFF WITH HIGH HOPES

     The departures were about 3 1/2 hours apart on Wednesday-- Michigan State's hockey team is off to Colorado College for Friday night's NCAA tournament opening game against the dangerous Tigers-- and the Spartan men's basketball team departed three hours later for Houston and a similar game time, 10pm Friday, against Memphis.  Who has the tougher road?  I'd say basketball.  Memphis is 35-1 and a number one seed and spent five weeks ranked number one in the nation.  Colorado College, despite just two losses at home, is a number two seed and Michigan State's hockey team can be dangerous in a one and done series.  Both goaltenders are good, so the guy with the big night may well end up winning.

     Meanwhile, MSU women's basketball is home at 7pm Thursday against Kansas.  It's a third round WNIT game and the Spartans, 20-13, should be favored over a team that is traveling and has a 17-15 record.  A win could send State into a third game this season against Michigan.

     Walk on Nick Sheridan is playing quarterback with the first string at the moment with Michigan's football team in spring practice in Ann Arbor.  Amazing.  I remember him as a little sixth grader playing tackle football for the Okemos youth team.  He was a part timer at quarterback.  When his dad, Bill, left the MSU coaching staff and went to Michigan, Nick ended up playing in high school in Ann Arbor.  He walked on with the Wolverines, even though his dad is no longer on the Michigan staff and even though he may end up not playing this fall, he is in the mix at least at the moment.

     New coach Rich Rodriguez will be thin at key spots this fall in his first season, just as many new MSU coaches have been over the years.  One reason is players leaving the program from their original coach, in this case Lloyd Carr.  The latest is starting offensive lineman Justin Boren, whose dad, Mike, was a good Michigan player for Bo Schembechler.  Justin didn't see eye to eye with spring practices and conditioning and now the Wolverines have just one holdover starting offensive lineman.  They need new receivers, a new running back, a quarterback and much more before the first game, August 30, at home against Utah.

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