Why Michigan State Wins Tonight

Stephen BlackAnalyst IApril 6, 2009

25 Mar 2001: Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo waves to fans after cutting down a net following his team's 69-62 victory over Temple during their NCAA South Region Final game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.  <DIGITAL IMAGE> Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons/ALLSPORT

Backcourt play

The Spartans' Kalin Lucas and Travis Walton form one of the best guard duos in college basketball. Walton is the team's best defender, while Lucas is no slouch himself on defense.

It has long been said that backcourt play is vital towards making a run in March. Michigan State's backcourt has been a key in getting the Spartans to Monday night.

The Tar Heels' MVP is point guard Ty Lawson, whose absence in the ACC Tourney probably cost UNC the tournament championship.

If Lucas and Walton can contain Lawson and force Carolina guard Wayne Ellington into a sub-par shooting night, the Spartans have a good chance at pulling off the upset.


Spartan head coach Tom Izzo is an amazing 14-2 in the second game of the weekend during NCAA Tournament play. This means that Izzo, in his 14th year coaching State, is a master in preparing his teams on short notice.

This is already his fifth Final Four appearance at MSU and his second showing in the championship game. His other team to make it this far was in 2000, when the Spartans took home the title.

While Izzo's counterpart Roy Williams is one of the best coaches in the game and has more championship game experience, Izzo's record in second games on the weekend gives him the edge tonight.

Home Crowd

Ford Field will be packed tonight with the Green and White of the Spartans. The surprising run to the title game has captured the imagination of thousands in the Motor City, not to mention the rest of the state.

There will be a couple thousand Tar Heels in the stands, but not enough to be a factor against 70,000 in Green and White.

The new setup the NCAA is using by placing the court in the middle of the football field allows thousands more fans to be able to not only get into the game, but also see the entire court.

The Tar Heels are a mentally tough squad that has won in some the toughest venues in America, but they haven't seen anything like the football-sized throng of Spartan fans that they will see tonight.

When the two teams played at Ford Field in December, only 25,000 were in attendance. And they were certainly not at the fever pitch that they will be at for tonight's championship game.

Defense and Hustle

Many have said that this year's Spartan squad is a direct reflection of their tough-minded head coach.

Izzo, a native of Iron Mountain, MI, preaches air-tight defense, physical play, relentless rebounding and 100 percent effort at all times. MSU is solid in all of those areas. 

Meanwhile, if the Tar Heels have a chink in their armor, it is their defense. Carolina has given up 85, 92, and 88 points in their three losses this year, as well as 84 and 91 in wins over Oral Roberts and Maryland.


It is difficult to beat a good team once, but beating a good team twice in the same season can be tricky. Especially in the same venue when said team is much healthier and playing much better. When Carolina demolished the Spartans 98-63 on Dec. 3, the Tar Heels were in mid-season form while MSU was not at full strength.

The lynchpin of the team, 6-10 senior Goran Suton, did not play against UNC back in December.

Suton, the team's leading rebounder, is a major force in the interior for the Spartans. The versatile forward is also a solid outside shooter and a tremendous passer.

Also, in the back of their minds, Carolina remembers how easy that game in December was. But if the Heels let it affect their mental makeup for tonight's game, they will get beat.

Meanwhile, the Spartans have been stewing about the blowout for months and will assuredly be on-point for tonight's game.

The guess here is that UNC will have a slight letdown for the game, while Michigan State will ride a wave of emotion confidence to a shocking upset.