Michigan basketball pregame honors Michigan State before rivalry game

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ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - FEBRUARY 18: A general view of the crowd at Crisler Arena during a tribute to the students that passed away from a mass shooting at Michigan State University before a college basketball game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Michigan State Spartans at Crisler Arena on February 18, 2023 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images)

Saturday night's Wolverines and Spartans rivalry basketball game took a different tone less than a week removed from the mass shooting tragedy at Michigan State University where three students were killed and five others wounded on Feb. 13.

It was the rare exception where the final 84-72 win by Michigan Saturday night paled in comparison to the message of unity and support from the special pregame ceremony at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor. 

The pregame started with UM's basketball team wearing specially designed team warm-ups that recognized MSU. For fans, they had 2,000 specially designed shirts for the Maize Rage and student ticket holders.

"Everyone’s a big family today," said one student.

Before the game started, they had a 30-second moment of silence - which was paired with the Crisler Center being lit up green and white using programmable LED wristbands distributed to all fans. 

The Maize Rage student section also was home to a 12x8 "Spartan Strong" flag.

"I think it’s really special Wolverines being really supportive-recently started grad school here, hanging up the Spartan flag, never see in Ann Arbor," said Jaelyn Thomas, an MSU Graduate.

Lastly - the UM Pep Band has learned the MSU alma mater and played it on Saturday.

The gestures are the latest in support from the typically bitter in-state rivals in the wake of Monday's shooting. On Wednesday, UM athletics unveiled Spartan decals that some sports will wear on their helmets.

"I think that a lot of things are bigger than sports, and this is just an example of coming together to show support."