Final Four Live Blog
MSU and UNC punch their tickets to the Final.
With the Final Four tipping off a mere three hours from my igloo in the Great White North, I graciously volunteered to cover it for SLAM (I know, my generosity is astounding). So I made sure our pet polar bear had enough food, loaded up the sled dogs and mushed off to the land of opportunity – the U.S. of A. For good measure I brought along my wife and son to drop some greenbacks and ensure the success of Obama’s economic stimulus plan.
Not surprisingly the city is a sea of green. A swarm of Michigan State jerseys, t-shirts, license plates and hats have swarmed the city. The only place they haven’t invaded seems to be my hotel out in the ‘burbs, which seems to be exclusive Villanova territory. Unfortunately I expect the green-clad fans to go home disappointed today as I expect UConn to win this game. But, then again, I tend to be wrong on the rare occasion.
Just heading out to the court now – back in a bit.
No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 1 Connecticut
Sorry for the delay. After wandering courtside for 30 minutes with noone having a clue where my seat was, I was informed I was seated up in the pressbox. After dashing by Blake Griffin in the hallway and taking a sweat elevator ride I’m finally here. Apparently SLAM doesn’t rate too highly with the NCAA because I am WAY up. No nosebleed yet – keep your fingers crossed.
Now that I’ve got here I’ve been told there is no wireless due to a tv station blowing it up. I’m finally back online.
From the reaction of the crowd during introductions there are a few Michigan State fans in attendance – go figure.
Guess it is apparent on tv also, but the NCAA has reserved huge sections beyond the baskets for students of the four schools competing. Really adds to the noise and excitement in here.
Michigan State is really ride the emotion of the crowd and have UConn at their biggest deficit in the tourney so far. Interesting Calhoun hasn’t called a timeout yet.
Michigan State really is killing them on the boards – could be the difference in the game.
Stanley Robinson three has cut the State lead to two. I think UConn has gotten over their initial jitters.
College basketball live is so much better than the NBA. The passionate crowds. The bands. Nothing beats it. Especially the Final Four with 70000 rabid fans crammed into a football stadium.
Kemba Walker layup has given UConn their first lead. Not for long though as State has tied it up. You gotta believe State doesn’t like the quick pace and are going to try to slow things down.
It appears the wave of emotion Izzo’s guys were riding at the starting of the game has subsided. UConn seems to be slowing getting the game under control (which is good since I picked them in my pool to make it to the final – no bias here though!!).
Jeff Adrien is KILLING Michigan State on the boards. Too big. Too strong. Too experienced.
Thabeet to the line. More than half of the first half in the books and Thabeet has no fouls. Great sign for UConn fans.
If the Spartans are going to let Thabeet get the ball as low as he has been, they may as well just stay in the locker room at halftime.
It’s quite apparent that Adrien does not want this to be his last collegiate game – he is fired up and playing like a beast.
State is hanging around and the crowd is back into it. Now if they could only start taking good shots. Too many low jumpers.
State has already played 11 guys to UConn’s 7 – could be a difference maker later in the game.
Finally a three-pointer falls and the hometown boys are back in the game.
This has to be the loudest crowd in this building ever, what with the Lions playing here. The least amount of paperbags on people’s heads also.
Speaking of the Lions, it’s getting a little scrappy now. Don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mess with Jeff Adrien (and I’m 6’6″ 245lb)!
Man, Thabeet can run the floor for a big man. Name me another 7’3″ guy who can get into fastbreaks like him? NBA scouts are noticing.
Korie Lucious’ 11-points off the bench is huge for Michigan State. Plus he probably has the best last name on the team.
38-36 for the Spartans at halftime – and the crowd goes nuts.
Off to powder my nose – keep an eye on my laptop and make sure no grubby writer steals it ok?
Some halftime thoughts:
This is only the third time this year that Lucious has scored in double-figures. The freshman is coming up big on the biggest stage.
I think the guys in green are taking too many three-pointers. They are 4-14 from deep at halftime and 36% of their shot attempts are coming from out there, as opposed to only 26% during the regular season. I know Thabeet’s shotblocker/altering presence plays a big part in that, but still.
On the other side of the court, UConn are getting good looks downlow. Thabeet is getting the ball deep in the post, and if that continues UConn should come out on top.
Stanley Robinson came out on fire for UConn, getting 7 quick points in the first few minutes. He hasn’t taken a shot since then. He has the talent and size to be the X-factor in this game.
Second half under way.
A quick 6-point run for UConn right out of the gate and the crowd is dead. It’s crazy how quick the crowd gets quiet in here once something goes wrong for State.
State on a run of their own to retake their 2-point lead. And the fairweather fans have found their voices again.
Bad stretch for hometown boy Kalin Lucas. Got caught in the air and threw it away and then took an off-balance jumper that missed.
Robinson apparently is reading this blog as he hits for one in the paint and then does an amazing two-handed block.
State just won’t go away – timeout on the floor and they have a 4-point lead. The longer they stay in this game the bigger a factor this crowd will play.
Just for your information – the tv feed your watching is about on a 2-second delay, so I’ll know who won before you do. HAHA.
Another nasty block by Robinson. If he could get more consistent (and get a jumper) he’d be a major NBA prospect. As of now he’s only borderline.
UConn is living at the line but they can’t knock down any of the freebies. Maybe they didn’t notice what happened to Memphis in the title game last year?
I’m surprised to say this but this game is starting to slip away from UConn. It probably wasn’t shown on tv, but at halftime a clear glass lid was put on top of the basket the Huskies are shooting at this half. That might explain their trouble this half.
People are running around the press box after that dunk by Summers. RI-DIC-U-LOUS.
With the shot selection of State in this game there is no way they should be winning. Yet the scoreboard says that they are up by 10. I’m confused. Maybe you people at home are more enlightened that I since you get to hear Clark Kellogg break it down.
71-60 MSU and a timeout. I know the CBS people won’t admit it, but I’d say this game is over.
Glad I’m not staying at MSU’s fan’s hotel – think it is going to be a little rowdy tonight.
Apparently someone tipped off Kalin Lucas that I’m going to be doing a feature on him, because the kid is bringing it. And he grew up only 10 minutes from Ford Field.
The Huskies full court press is getting MSU flustered. But is it too little too late?
I may be way up here in the nether regions, but I still heard Thabeet hit the floor. Ouch.
Forget what I said about this game being over. UConn finally realized that free throws are supposed to be easy. We’ve got ourselves a 4-point game.
Stanley Robinson is just a highlight waiting to happen.
I feel like Larry King writing all these random, quick thoughts. Does he still even write that column of his?
Michigan State has ice in their veins from the free throw line. Forget what I said about the game not being over – its over.
Just announced this is the largest NCAA Final Four crowd of all-time – 72456. About 72000 of them are wearing MSU’s green.
It should be against the law to foul when the game is clearly out of reach – 7-point lead with 14 seconds left – let it go UConn.
82-73 final and Michigan State is going to Monday’s championship game. Wow – who would have thunk it at the starting of the year? This place is getting loud, but not as loud as expected. Maybe my comment of 72000 MSU fans in attendance was a bit steep.
Off to the press conference to see if anyone has anything profound to say. Back in a bit. Once again, keep an eye on my laptop.
No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 1 Connecticut
Carolina just hit the floor to a chorus of boos. Guess we’ve got our villain identified for game two.
One of the big stories leading into the UNC-Villanova tilt is that Carolina point guard Ty Lawson won $250 playing craps at a Detroit casino earlier in the week. The degenerate gambler inside me immediately thought “Cool, good for him”, but apparently this is a problem for some people. The NCAA discourages players from any kind of gambling and some of the Final Four coaches have banned their players from gambling at Motown’s plethora of casinos. But assuming that legally gambling at a casino is going to lead someone to gamble on sporting events he is participating in is like assuming that anyone who drinks a beer is also going to end up shooting up heroin.
However, I’m probably biased, considering I was in a similar situation as Lawson in my younger days. When the university basketball team I played rode the bench for made it to Canada’s Final Eight national championship, I spent plenty of time in the host city’s casino. The only difference is Lawson made a withdrawal from the casino – I made a deposit.
I just got back from interviewing Kalin Lucas for an upcoming piece in the mag – what did I miss?
17-8 UNC – they are trying to make the Big East 0-2 tonight. Hansbrough’s got 6 – last chance for a NCAA chip for him.
Carolina is trying to finish this game early – 19-8 now.
One thing you realize after doing locker room interviews is how much player’s heights get exagerated. I’m a shade under 6’6″ but I towered over everyone in the locker room and pretty much look so-called 6’10″ Goran Suton in the eyes.
Man, Carolina is coming out with guns-a-blazing. They’ve got too many weapons for Villanova. I’m starting to think that Danny Green might end up being the best NBA player from this current Carolina lineup – thoughts?
The best part of the press conference was when Kalin Lucas forgot who UNC was playing in this game and called Villanova “the other team” – cracked up teammate’s Raymar Morgan and Travis Walton.
Scottie Reynolds takes the ball to the hole HARD. Danny Green just mugged him but Reynolds hit the hoop and Green ended up on the floor.
Wayne Ellington has being showing lately that he is more than just a jump shooter – 11 points and 3 boards already. I’m sure the scouts are noticing.
A couple of compliants – the elevators at Ford Field are brutal – too get from the 7th floor press box to the basement where the interviews are done takes forever. Plus they need to get better media buffet food for a 245lb vegetarian writer like myself.
Nothing better than hearing a college band play Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer live. Brings a tear to your eye.
Vilanova just doesn’t have enough weapons to keep up with Carolina. Roy Williams’ Big Three (Ty,Ty and Wayne) have outscored the Wildcats on their own.
Scottie Reynolds is trying to make sure this game stays competitive – went on a nice little scoring binge.
Villanova is staying in this one by pushing the ball up the floor. Plus Hansbrough shooting 3s for Carolina has to help out the Wildcats’ cause.
Halftime – 49-40 Carolina. When you look at the shooting stats Carolina should be running away with this one. Villanova’s 10 offensive rebounds are helping them hang around in this one.
The Michigan State student section is more than half empty now – have a feeling there is some drunken revelry going on on the streets of Detroit.
I was speaking of players’ exagerated heights earlier on, but apparently it doesn’t apply to broadcasters. Jay Bilas is a legit 6’8″ – believe that!
Just going through the halftime stats right now. Dante Cunningham is having himself a real good game for Jay Wright’s crew. 12 points, 7 boards (5 offensive) and played every second of the first half. Still not sure of how I feel about him as a NBA player – I’m going to have to do some more research on him.
Second half just getting underway. Let’s see if ‘Nova can stay in this one.
Well, ‘Nova has answered the bell – 5-point game.
A Danny Green three-pointer and a Ty Lawson hoop ended that mini Nova run. I’m telling you, put Green on any other team in the country and he would be a star. He’s going to be a solid pro.
Hansbrough is bleeding, again. Does a game go by that he doesn’t spill his guts, literally, on the floor?
This game is in no ways out of reach yet – 61-49 with 11:58 to go – but it just doesn’t feel like Villanova has any chance at pulling it out and winning. They are shooting 33.9% from the floor and 15% from long-range. Atrocious.
Carolina is making sure my predication comes true – 16-point lead now.
Ty Lawson really controls the game for Carolina. He always tries to push the pace with his roadrunner speed, but he’s smart enough to pull it back out and run the halfcourt offense if nothing presents itself.
This is turing into a track meet now. And like a real track meet, no one is putting any balls in any hoops.
72-57 Carolina – 5:13 left to go.
Wayne Ellington three-pointer pushes the lead to 18 and forces Jay Wrigth to call a timeout. This place is starting to empty out now – good no traffic for the drive out of here for me then.
While it looks like ‘Nova will go down for the count today, they should still be a strong squad next year, despite graduating three starters. I don’t forsee anyone on their team leaving early for the NBA this year, plus they have the fourth-best recruiting class (according to Rivals.com) hitting their campus in the fall.
Now it is feeling more like a Detroit Lions’ game in here (or how I would guess it would be like) – empty seats and a dead crowd (except for the Carolina student section of course).
Bizarro stat of the night so far – Carolina’s 6’3″ backup guard Bobby Frasor has 7 rebounds – 5 on the offensive end.
Carolina is just trying to play keep-away now and milk the clock. A 12-point deficit with 2:19 left isn’t insurmountable, but as I said earlier, it just doesn’t feel like Villanova is in the game (or ever was).
Dante Cunningham just fouled out by mugging Hansbrough and gets a nice applause from the ‘Nova fans as he leaves the court for the last time in his collegiate career. Back to Hansbrough – the man takes a beating. He’ s the Shaq of the NCAA.
Carolina is into the old four corners stall offense now. Somewhere Dean Smith is smiling. Actually, he’s probably in the building – I just haven’t spotted him yet.
Game over – 83-69 Carolina. Should be a real interesting championship game versus Michigan State.
Well, time for me to disapear into the Motown night. I’ll be back again on Monday, same bat-time, same bat-channel.