Ok, this is it. This is the final men's NCAA basketball game of the season. We have the Michigan State Spartans going up against the North Carolina Tarheels for all the marbles. Can we call this one 'The Throwdown in Motown'? This NCAA tournament didn't provide a lot of surprises until the end, so will it provide us any more? The Tarheels are widely favored by many as the team to beat. The Spartans have been the under dogs for the majority of the year and especially now. Although, they have the one thing that many teams don't in this tournament for the final game, home court advantage. Let's take a look at this matchup.
Coaching: Roy Williams vs. Tom Izzo
Both coaches are good/great. Some might say that Tom Izzo has done more with less than many other coaches. The other day, my father-in-law and I had a discussion about the number of Michigan State Spartans in (or have played in) the NBA that Izzo has coached. Charlie Bell, Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson, and Alan Anderson are some of the first that come to mind. Other than that, there aren't the high profile guys that have come out of the Michigan State Program. Roy Williams on the other hand has coached at Kansas and has 10 of his Kansas players go in the first round of the NBA draft. So maybe Izzo gets the slight edge here because he gets the most out of his kids than Williams.
Point Guard: Ty Lawson vs. Kalin Lucas
Everyone knows about Ty Lawson. When he's on, he's one of the best point guards in the NCAA and a sure fire 1st round pick in the NBA Draft this summer. He has worked on his shot from the 3 and he has also worked on being a little bit more in control. He has a great first step and can find his teammates easily to get them going. When UNC needs it, he takes over the game. Kalin Lucas has shown us through the tournament that he is as quick as Lawson. He can score, he runs his team in the half court sets well, and he can hit a shot when his team needs it. This is going to be the showdown of the game. Which ever point guard plays better, in mind estimation gets the win. If they play even, then the balance shifts to UNC because of the talent.
Shooting Guard: Wayne Ellington vs. Durrell Summers (you can switch Travis Walton here also)
Wayne Ellington did him self justice by returning to UNC last year instead of heading to the NBA. He has shown a better shooting stroke (catching fire as of late) and the ability to take the ball to the rack. Durrell Summers has shown the ability to shut down people in the tournament, while at the same time he has been a pretty consistent 10 point a game scorer. He's probably the most athletic player the Spartans have and he could switch between guarding Ellington or Danny Green. I think they go with him on Ellington because they are about the same size (6-4).
Small Forward: Danny Green vs. Travis Walton (you can switch Durrell Summers here also)
Danny Green may be the lynch pin to this Carolina team. He has been known to catch fire from the 3 point line and just be an a do it all kind of player. Green doesn't wow you by any athletic means, but he always seems to be there when you need him. A three here, a rebound there, a put back, whatever you need. Travis Walton has been a stopper for the Spartans. He has done a great job in the tournament and he gets the opportunity to continue this job against Danny Green (or Ellington).
Power Forward: Deon Thompson vs. Raymar Morgan
This is going to be a battle. Thompson has turned himself into a 3rd banana of sorts. He can score around the basket and block shots. He's always ready to get the ball when he sees Lawson driving to the basket. He plays good defense and could be a star in another system (Coach K, this is the type of big man you need at Duke,...sorry for that note, yeah a little off track). Raymar Morgan is a smaller big man, but he has the heart and he can score around the basket or on the perimeter. He may be able to pull Thompson away from the basket.
Center: Tyler Hansbrough vs. Goran Suton
This ought to be a good matchup. Hansbrough has all of the accolades to back him up. He can score in the paint, rebound, and has a decent jumper that can extend to the three point line. I will go on record to say Hansbrough is overrated, but he hustles and he does the dirty work for his team. If you fall into that Hansbrough being overrated, he'll kill you. Suton has been a beast in the tournament. He has shown that euro game, a big man that can space the floor and hit jumpers from all over the place. He can rebound and has a bit of a mean streak in him that may serve him well during this matchup. He definitely won't back down from Hansbrough.
Bench: UNC vs. Michigan State
The Tarheels have a deep bench with all different kinds of attributes: Frasor (shooting, guard play), Zeller and Davis (another big who can score and rebound), and Larry Drew II. The Spartans go 10 deep and they can bring scoring (Lucious and Allen), hustle and rebounding (Delvon Roe).
Intangibles: Michigan State is playing at home and they have been on a roll. Carolina has guys that were there last year and decided to come back in order to win the big one.
Outcome: I'm sticking with the ACC on this one. This Carolina team is too deep and too talented. Michigan State will play and keep this one close, but look for Carolina to puts some distance at the end and run away with this one.
Who you got? Does Michigan State have a chance?