|Nothing will be finer than Carolina… Trags Take||04.06.09 at 2:02 pm ET|
National Championship-Michigan State (31-6) vs. North Carolina (33-4), 9:18 p.m. ET, CBS-TV.
They didn’t play close to their best game on Saturday night and the North Carolina Tar Heels still dispatched of the Villanova Wildcats by 14 points.
The Michigan State Spartans are unquestionably the darlings of this tournament, if you can be with a 31-6 record and a No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region. They beat No. 1 Connecticut on Saturday and advance to the national title game just 90 miles from their campus in East Lansing. Their official web site proclaims: “One More. Wear White on Monday Night.”
One of the more overwhelming storylines of this Final Four is the boost that a national championship would give Detroit and the state of Michigan if the Spartans could prevail.
Roy Williams, the Heels coach, would have none of that talk on Sunday.
“You know if we’re playing against the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan, they out number us,” Williams said. “We don’t have as good a chance at that one. But the other thing is you guys have to understand, we left here (Saturday) night at 12:45. We went back, we had a nice little snack and some ice cream and the kids went to bed. I saw them this morning at 11:00 for 30 minutes. We haven’t exactly exhausted the state of the nation’s economy in the last 18 hours.
“So for us, we’re playing Michigan State. I do realize they have a cause. Well, we also have a cause. We want to win a national championship, period, the end. And if you would tell me that if Michigan State wins, it’s gonna satisfy the nation’s economy, then I’d say, Hell, let’s stay poor for a little while longer. I don’t think that’s gonna happen. So if all the workers of America come down and start guarding my butt on the bench, then I’ll start being concerned about it.”
Michigan State has certainly been outstanding guarding people and that’s the No. 1 reason they have gotten to this point. They completely took overall No. 1 seed Louisville out of its game, allowing just 52 points in the Midwest final. They never let Jeff Adrien and A.J. Price get into their game in the national semifinal on Saturday. Now, they are playing their third straight game against a No. 1 seed.
Can they do it again against Carolina? Here’s a vote for reality and against storybook finishes. Carolina simply has too much.
Here’s how North Carolina wins its fifth title tonight in Detroit.
1: Depth. When Ty Lawson picked up two quick fouls on Saturday against Villanova, the Heels didn’t panic. When Tyler Hansbrough picked up his third early in the second half, again no worries. The reason for the calm is the number of bodies Roy Williams has next to him on the bench that can come in, bodies that would be starters on most other Division I programs.
2. Ty Lawson. The bum toe of Lawson has not been a factor and the point guard has played his best basketball in the tournament.
3. Outside-in. As Carolina showed in the first half on Saturday, they have plenty of scorers who can fire from three-point range.
4. Tyler Hansbrough. The Carolina big man can match up with Goran Suton. That will be a fascinating matchup to watch.
5. Us against the world. Carolina knows full well what the atmosphere is likely to be. Playing in Cameron Indoor Stadium, in many ways, is harder than playing before 72,000 in dome stadium.
How they lineup:
Morgan, Raymar…… f
Roe, Delvon……… f
Suton, Goran…….. c
Lucas, Kalin…….. g
Walton, Travis…… g
Deon Thompson……. f
Tyler Hansbrough…. f
Lawson, Ty………. g
Danny Green……… g
Wayne Ellington….. g
How they got here:
No. 2 seed Michigan State won the Midwest Regional. Beat No. 15 Robert Morris, 77-62. Beat No. 11 USC. 74-69. Beat No. 3 Kansas 67-62. Beat No. 1 Louisville, 64-52. Beat No. 1 Connecticut
No. 1 seed North Carolina won the South Regional. Beat No. 16 Radford, 101-58. Beat No. 8 LSU, 84-70. Beat No. 4 Gonzaga, 98-77. Beat No. 2 Oklahoma, 72-60. Beat No. 3 Villanova, 83-69.
It certainly won’t be the 98-63 Carolina blowout in the same stadium back on Dec. 3 but Carolina can handle the pressure that the Spartans will throw at them.
North Carolina 76, Michigan State 71
|UConn can and will… Trags Take||04.03.09 at 3:03 pm ET|
National semifinal-Michigan State (30-6) vs. Connecticut (31-4), 6:07 p.m. ET, CBS-TV.
For a team that is a No. 2 seed playing on its virtual home court, the Michigan State Spartans sure seem like a considerable underdog against Connecticut in Saturday’s first national semifinal at Ford Field in Detroit. There’s good reason.
Michigan State fans, coaches and players need to travel just 85 miles to get to its destination on Saturday evening. And when they get there, there will be a tremendously gifted and motivated team that awaits them.
Back on Feb. 1, when they lost at home to eventual NIT champ Penn State, it seemed a lot longer than 85 miles to Destination Detroit. But this team is coached by Tom Izzo and he never lets his team lose focus or confidence. And he didn’t this time either. They regrouped and, except for a loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten semifinals, the Spartans have been on a mission, winning 10 of their last 11 and playing their best basketball in the NCAAs, reaching the Final Four for the fifth time in 11 seasons.
Their opponent, the Connecticut Huskies haven’t been short on storylines. But certainly, thanks to some ace journalism from Yahoo!, it’s been the wrong kind. Coach Jim Calhoun is once again the lightning rod of a program that is back to the Final Four for the third time since 1999. The last two trips have resulted in titles.
The tournament for UConn began with their coach in a Philadelphia hospital and continued the next weekend with allegations of serious recruiting violations. But the Huskies aren’t playing like there’s another shoe to drop. They’ve taken care of business, playing like a family that has come together in the worst of times. Throw in the best talent this side of Chapel Hill and you have a practically unbeatable combination. Read the rest of this entry »