By: Kevin Traynor
What began with a 64-team field has now dwindled to two, and on Monday night the NCAA Tournament will crown its champion. So, the question has to be, ‘who do ya got?’
The North Carolina Tar Heels have cruised their way into the game winning all their previous contests by double digits. Their most recent victim was the darling Villanova Wildcats who they handled by 14.
On the other side, Michigan State has battled their way to the title game behind the efforts of standouts Kalin Lucas and Goran Sutan. The 3-seeded Spartans defeated the favored UConn Huskies Saturday night to earn their bid to the title game.
However, Monday night will not mark these team’s first meeting. On a game played in early December, UNC stomped the Spartans by 35 albeit without Michgan State’s big man and leader: Goran Suton.
“I saw that game,” said Josef Schaetzle, a junior baseball player at Nassau Community College. “It was awful. I had to turn it off. Michigan State was ranked in the top 10 and it was billed to be this big time game, but North Carolina wasn’t having it.”
Things have changed since that matchup. Suton is averaging nearly 10 points and 8 boards a game, and guard Kalin Lucas has been putting up 14 points per game this season. In order to get a win tonight, Suton is going to have to neutralize the reigning NCAA Player of the Year in Tyler Hansbrough.
“Hansbrough is going to be the key to this game,” Marist basketball guard David Devezin said.
North Carolina has five players averaging over 10 points per game, and has been averaging nearly 90 points per game this season versus Michgan State’s 72.
Michigan State’s half court sets might serve as the remedy to slow North Carolina’s run-and-gun brand of basketball, and there is an x-factor that may also benefit the Spartans: it’s a ‘home’ game.
The National Championship game is being held at Ford Field in Detroit Monday in front of what is expected to be an overwhelming majority of Spartan fans. ESPN is reporting that between 40,000 and 50,000 fans will supporting Michigan State.
“A bunch of my friends flew out for the game,” said Garth Grillo, a junior at Loyola College (Md). “They called me from the game, and it was so loud that I couldn’t even hear them.”