NCAA Final Live Blog
Live from the Ford Center, for all the marbles!
It’s finally time to put an end to the Madness, in a ridiculously cold and snowy Detroit. I know what you are thinking—”You’re Canadian, you should be used to this weather.” But it’s April—enough already.
As I mentioned in Saturday’s semi-final blog, most of the Michigan State faithful fled Ford Field before the end of the UNC-Villanova tilt, so by the time I hit the streets later that night the party was in full swing. With all the drunken, swaying green-clad fans in the streets it felt like being in a forest hit by a wind storm. I don’t expect the party to be as rowdy tonight for two reasons – I expect Carolina to win and it’s too damn cold.
There are two main storylines heading into tonight’s game. The first is that Carolina put a 35-point whipping on State in early December in this very same building. The second is that State is lifting the spirits of this depressed city and state. While I feel this second statement is being exagerated a bit, travelling around this city and seing how excited people are – plus reading in Sports Illustrated that the area is expected to earn $45 million from the Final Four – perhaps I’m wrong.
Just leaving for Ford Field now to grab some food (hopefully someone with the NCAA read my Saturday blog and have improved the vegetarian selections) and attend a press conference with a couple of guys named Magic and Bird. I think they used to be players or coaches or something.
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Michigan State
– Wow – what a huge screw up once again. First I was brought to the wrong seating section. Then when I got to my courtside seat I was told that the wireless still wasn’t working. Luckily I got moved to a seat noone had claimed yet so here I am. Give me a minute to catch my breath and I’ll be back with some thoughts on the game.
– I’ve got a pile of UNC fans behind me so this place is going nuts – my ears are bleeding. As expected (at least by me), Carolina just has too much firepower for State. I figured if Izzo’s guys had any chance at winning this one they’d have to come out on fire and get this crowd really going. Hasn’t been the case yet - 17-7 already – and we may be on our way to a blowout.
– MSU’s only chance to win this game is to get to the foul line and get Carolina in foul trouble. That is starting to happen now, so they may be hope still.
– State is starting to catch some breaks now, but they are still down by 13.
– To answer’s Russ’ question about whether or not MJ is here, no sign of him yet. Magic, Bird, Jesse Jackson I have spotten. I’ve heard Cassell is in the house. No sign on MJ yet.
– Is there a player on the planet who is fast enough to stay in front of Ty Lawson with a head of steam? Kalin Lucas is no turtle himself but he can’t even do it.
– UNC’s size and athleticism is very apparent – even more so sitting at courtside. The guys they bring off the bench would be good enough to make noise in the NCAA Tournament.
– Carolina is making sure it is one shot and out for Michigan State every time down the floor. It’s going to be very hard for them to get back into this one unless someone catches fire.
– An Ed Davis free throw makes it 32-11 halfway through the first. Is anyone even watching this game anymore? I don’t see the Spartans getting back into this one.
– Kalin Lucas nails a long J – they need him to heat up fast.
– Hansbrough with the goal tend – who said he couldn’t jump?!
– Kalin Lucas is starting to make me think of him as a Ty Lawson-lite. Same small stature. Same blazing speed. Same strength in being able to finish And-1′s. Give him another year or so.
– It seems like State is gaining momentum and the crowd is getting into the game, then I glance up at the scoreboard and realized it is still a 20-point deficit.
– Raymar Morgan just got laid out right in front of me. He’s clutching his broken nose. I know how much it hurts getting hit in the nose – can just imagine what it feels like with a broken nose, regardless of the mask.
– Wayne Ellington is having a hell of a tournament. I never was a big fan of his game but he has shown me a lot over the past few weeks. He’s more than just a spot-up shooter now.
– As if on cue, Ellington nails a very difficult contested three-pointer. Final Four MOP?
– 23-point lead now. Almost a big enough deficit that a young Jeff Fox in his college days is starting to think he might actually get into the game. Not time to start stretching yet, but I’d at least stop eating as much candy on the bench.
– Ed Davis has 7 points and 5 boards off the bench of Carolina. He is one of those ridiculously athletic, long and skilled players that other teams just don’t have the luxury of bringing in off the bench.
– From the noise this crowd is making you’d think State was up by 18. The crowd is doing their part – know it’s the players’ turn.
– What I said about Ed Davis above goes for Tyler Zeller also.
– Korie Lucious is having himself another solid game off the bench for the Spartans. Knocked down two three-pointers and is playing real good D on Lawson.
– Halftime see Carolina up 55-34. 55 points in a half against a very stingy defensive team just shows how incredibly talented Roy Williams’ team is. Before the game Magic Johnson called them the best team in college. You can see why now.
– Jordan IS in the house. Just have Jim Gray a soul handshake and a hug. So is Stockton and the Admiral. It’s 90s retro time at Ford Field.
– Eric Montross is a couple of seats down from me. He’s definitely still tall enough to play in the NBA.
– An over 40-year-old Michael Jordan in a suit still has more “swag” (as you kids like to say) than any other person I’ve seen in person.
– The Reverand Jackson doesn’t look too happy – I’m thinking since he is sitting with Mrs. Izzo he must be a Spartans’ supporter tonight.
– With one half in the books, you can’t really say Michigan State played that bad. They’re shooting 44% from the floor, 40% from three, only being out-rebounded by one board. The problem is they can’t stop Carolina – 52.9% from the field, 4-9 for three’s, 78.9% from the charity stripe. To put into perspective how great Carolina’s 55-points in a half versus State is, Izzo’s boys held Louisville (the #1 seeded team in this tournament) to only 52-points in their victory in the Elite Eight.
– Just got the halftime stat report and I figured out with State is getting slaughtered – 14 turnovers to only 4. Ty Lawson still doesn’t have a turnover and only has 6 in total in the whole tournament.
– MSU has come out real strong this half – still down by 18 though and still throwing the ball away.
– Is there a worse job than being a cheerleader when your team is down by 20? MSU’s are out on the court cheering like they are in the lead. Maybe they don’t look at the scoreboard.
– Delvon Roe is having a strong half, crashing the boards and getting a hoop and a harm.
– What’s Tyler Hansbrough’s problem this game? It’s more than half over and he hasn’t bled yet.
– Lawson and Lucas just took turns going coast-to-coast and I can’t tell which one is faster. Blazing speed for both of them.
– Only one player has a steal in this game and that is Lawson. And he has 8!
– The lead is down to 16 and this place is jumping again (except for the light blue sea behind me). Does State have a chance still?
– Brother-in-laws Vince Carter and Antwan Jamison are in the house rocking the UNC baby blue (not to mention George Lynch). Carter apparently heard it was 1990s retro night in here and is rocking his hat sideways.
– 72-53 with 7:33 to go. Very quiet in hear now. Glad I got moved from the MSU fan side of the court to the UNC side. I’d like to think that Carolina is going to win because of me.
– Another amazing thing about Carolina that is apparent this game is not only that they are extremely talented, but they are also extremely experienced. All of their starters are upperclassman. At schools like Carolina, who recruit the creme de la creme in regards to high school talent, players are supposed to be in the NBA by their sophomore season.
– A three-pointer by Goran Suton has cut the lead to 15. Suton has had a great game – 17 and 11 so far. I definitely voting him onto my All-Final Four team.
– The Carolina fans behind me are all over the refs – you’re up by 16 with only 5 minutes to go – I think you can chill out a bit.
– Ellington is 7-12 so far from the field – UNC has never lost when he shoots over 50% in a game.
– 72,922 is tonight’s attendance, the highest total ever for the NCAA championship game.
– 80-65 Carolina with 3:51 left. State came out and really battled this half, but it appears to be too little too late.
– Raymar Morgan has just fouled out. After being great in the semi-final game, he didn’t show up tonight.
– Carolina have put their “Jeff Fox” players in the game so it is now officially over.
– 89-72 Carolina is the final and the baby blue clad fans are anything but blue.
– North Carolina just completed one of the most dominant NCAA tournament runs in recent memory. Their closest margin of victory in the tournament was 12. One of the best teams in recent memory?