Dec. 3, 2008. 98-63.
That date and those numbers have stuck out in Michigan State's mind all season long. The Spartans received this butt-kicking at the hands of the North Carolina Tar Heels, their opponent in Monday night's national championship game.
Not only does Sparty get a chance to gain revenge, they get a chance to do it in the exact same venue where the Heels gave them their original beating at Ford Field in Detroit. The Spartans have a look of a team of destiny.
They aren't the most talented, and they had the fewest big names of any of the Final Four teams. However, they are disciplined and they are playing with purpose. The fact that they are now getting to play in front of their hometown fans against the team that has been pre-ordained to win it all since the preseason is just an icing on the cake.
They are out-manned. There is no question about that. If North Carolina plays to its potential, there isn't a team in America that can hang with the Tar Heels on paper.
The Spartans, though, have the intangibles, and they have one of the most underrated coaches in college basketball history.
How many NBA players has Tom Izzo had to work with? Not many. Yet he has the chance to add a second national championship to his resume.
He is an incredible motivator, and one of the brightest tacticians of the past twenty years. It is unlikely the Tar Heels will find it easy going again when tip-off comes in Detroit Monday night.
Izzo will have his Spartans ready. They are out-gunned, and I doubt many people are giving them a chance.
Only a fool would count them out, though. This team will come out prepared to gain its revenge.
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