Monday, April 06, 2009

NCAA final prediction: Michigan State wins

It is rare that we have a win-win NCAA tournament final, but this is one of them. If Michigan State wins, then it is a story-book ending for the team and the city of Detroit. If North Carolina wins, it is a story-book ending for the four UNC players who came back for another year and tried to atone for their epic meltdown against Kansas.

It is no secret that we are not big fans of the way Big Eleven teams play and ruin the game of basketball by turning it into an ugly football-like fullback-style slugfest. Sure, Izzo tried hard to spin it during the Final Four, but let's face it, they play UGLY and they uglify the game.

Izzo tried to atone by running against UConn, but he didn't run for the sake of running, he ran because it was their best chance to win the game. And certainly Izzo deserves a lot of credit for his mastermind game planning, but as a high-profile coach at a big university, he is also responsible as a "Guardian of the Game" to play the game the right way. Not to uglify and slugfest it like a desperate Missouri Valley Conference coach whose only chance to win is a 39-33 game.

The Prediction
So why are we predicting that Michigan State wins? Because they have 11 players to run and wear down North Carolina. Yes, wear down North Carolina. UNC only has a nine-man rotation, but their perimeter, as we have seen against Nova were worn down by the crazy Nova guards. With Ginyard and Graves gone, there is a lot of pressure on Lawson, Ellington and Green to deliver. Izzo is likely to try to take away their legs by running at them and on them.

UNC however has some options up-front, and if they win, perhaps this may be the game where Tyler Zeller makes his presence felt. He was clearly like a fish out of water against Nova, but against the bigger Michigan State bigs, he may have a better chance of being more productive. Heck, we may even see some Mike Copeland checking his Spartan-equivalent chubby, Draymond Green ;-)

At the same time however, let us not forget ...

Everyone focuses on the blow out at Ford Field in December 2008 at the ACC-BigTen challenge, but that's not all.

Ole Roy has also beaten Michigan State in the NCAA tournament in 2007 and 2005. Yes, every two years. What year is this? 2009!

But the same thing did not work for UConn: 1999, check! 2004, check! 2009, no championship!

We prefer North Carolina to win the game, partly to "reward" the players who returned to college (which was the right decision in this case), and partly because Carolina plays the game the way it should be played (unlike Izzo State and most Big10 teams).

And while the return may have not boosted the NBA Draft stock for Tyler Hansbrough, this season has been very beneficial for Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington. Lawson has shown his outside shot and game-changer capabilities, and Wayne Ellington went from a wine-and-cheese shooter to an all-around two-guard with shooting but also rebounding and defense. It's like he grew ...onions in the summer ;-)

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