Michigan announced Saturday's Big Ten men's basketball game against No. 10 Michigan State has been postponed because of COVID-19 issues within its program.
The Wolverines fell below the roster minimum to play following Friday night's testing. The schools will work with the Big Ten to reschedule the rivalry game for later in the 2021-22 season.
Michigan's clash with the 10th-ranked Spartans is one of several crucial upcoming games for a squad that's been hovering around .500 for most of the campaign.
The Wolverines opened the year 2-0 but have posted a mere 5-6 mark since to fall to 7-6 overall, including 1-2 in conference play. It's left them on the fringe of the NCAA tournament picture and they'll need a couple marquee wins down the stretch to reach the Big Dance.
U-M won't have a shortage of opportunities thanks to the strength of the Big Ten. It has seven games against currently ranked opponents left on its schedule—two apiece against Michigan State, Ohio State and Purdue along with a road game against Wisconsin.
Michigan head coach Juwan Howard was asked about the difficult schedule on the horizon on Friday. He replied:
"One game at a time has always been our approach. Playing at home has always been, you've got to protect your home court.
"You have your home fans that are gonna be there supporting you. Your family, your friends, alumni group, student body—the Maize Rage. Play inspiring basketball because your fans are going to get behind you and support your effort.
"It's good to know that this game and the next games coming up are very competitive games. But that’s the Big Ten, and the Big Ten is a very competitive conference."
Meanwhile, Michigan State is already a virtual lock for the NCAA tournament with a 13-2 record, including a 4-0 start to conference play. The Spartans can improve their seeding over the next few months, with an outside shot at landing on the No. 1 line.
A road win over Michigan would have helped bolster those chances, but that always intriguing matchup will now have to wait a little longer.
The Spartans' next scheduled game comes Wednesday when they welcome Minnesota to the Breslin Center.
Michigan is slated to host the No. 3 Boilermakers on Tuesday at the Crisler Center if enough players clear the COVID-19 protocols over the next three days.