The stage is set for the annual ‘Duel in the D’ showdown between the Michigan Wolverines and the Michigan State Spartans. This will be the final installment of the showcase at Joe Louis Arena, so a lot more than bragging rights are on the light come Friday night.

It’s been a very difficult season for both programs on the ice this year. For Michigan, it’s a big drop off after making the Regional Semifinals a year ago and losing a ton of talent on both ends of the ice. For Michigan State, it’s proving to be another struggling campaign, something Spartan fans have seen all too often under head coach Tom Anastos.

Michigan (9-13-2, 2-7-1 Big Ten) is coming off a split of arch rival (11) Ohio State last weekend. A win in the former of the two contests played in Ann Arbor snapped a streak of four games without a win in regulation or overtime. Not only did a major turnover in roster change hurt the Wolverines this season, but a gauntlet of a Big Ten has hurt their overall standing. The other four non-Michigan-based programs in the conference all sit in the Top 20 of college hockey rankings, leaving no room for error for either Michigan or MSU.

And speaking of the Spartans (5-17-2, 1-8-1 Big Ten), they too are fresh off a series with one of those aforementioned four teams, (18) Wisconsin. The Badgers swept MSU in East Lansing last weekend, outscoring them 10-6 in the two games combined. The struggle to find the back of the net is well-documented for the Spartans this season, and their overall mark on the year is marred by a nine-game losing skid that spanned a little more than a month.

With no sights set on postseason play this year, barring some miraculous run through the conference tournament in March, this is shaping up to be just another chapter in the storied rivalry of college hockey in the Mitten. This will be the 312th and 313th meetings between Michigan and MSU on the ice; the Wolverines hold the 160-132-19 advantage all-time. In recent years, Michigan has dominated the series. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 2009-10 for the last time MSU even won consecutive games against the Wolverines. And since then, Michigan has had four separate runs of three straight wins against the Spartans.

With regards to their ‘Duel in the D’ history at The Joe, it is a tradition that dates back to 1991. The two play each other at least four times a season (excluding potential GLI match-ups and postseason play) and one of the four is always a neutral site game held at JLA. Home ice is determined by the year – in this case, given it is an odd-numbered year, MSU will be the de facto home team. This will be the 30th meeting between the two at Joe Louis Arena. Michigan holds the slight edge here as well, a 14-11-4 advantage. MSU however has won the previous two meetings. And last year’s meeting was the inaugural year for a trophy to become a staple in the series, the ‘Iron D’ trophy, which is currently sitting in East Lansing.

For tickets and more information on the Duel in the D 2017, you can click here.

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