Big Ten championship game: A fierce rivalry and friendship

Big 10 Championship game (WISH Photo/ Amanda Maynard)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Growing up in Indianapolis, Spartans guard Gary Harris spent a lot of time in the stands of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.  But Sunday, he was the one on the floor, hoisting the championship trophy as Michigan State took home the Big Ten tournament title with a 69-55 win.

“I was here my senior year [at HSE] when Michigan State played Ohio State,” said Harris.  “So when all the confetti was coming down and I was like, ‘wow this looks real familiar.'”

Many of his friends and family were in the stands for Sunday’s win. But one of his closest friends, Michigan guard Zak Irvin, left disappointed.

“We play on two opposite teams that happen to be rivals. So when it comes time to play on the court, it’s strictly business,” said Harris.

Harris and Irvin have been best friends since the third grade, growing up in the same hometown (Fishers), playing for the same high school (Hamilton Southeastern) and both were named Indiana Mr. Basketball their senior year.

“We’ve known each other for a long time,” said Irvin.  “I’m proud of him for all he’s done.”

Each have settled into their roles at their respective schools – Harris, a second year starter, and the freshman Irvin, who the Wolverines have tabbed their X factor.

“For us to both be on this level, playing for a Big Ten championship, is kinda surreal to me,” said Harris.

While there will be no Indiana schools for fans to root for in the NCAA tournament, there are still plenty of Hoosiers representing the state -on just Michigan and Michigan State’s rosters, there are nine players from Indiana. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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