National Championship: Michigan State (31-6) vs. North Carolina (33-4), 9:18 p.m. ET, CBS.
They didn’t play close to their best game on Saturday night, and the North Carolina Tar Heels still dispatched the Villanova Wildcats by 14 points.
The Michigan State are unquestionably the darlings of this tournament, if you can be a darling with a 31-6 record and the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region.
One of the more overwhelming storylines of this Final Four is the boost that a National Championship would give Detroit and the state of Michigan if the Spartans could prevail.
Roy Williams, the Heels' head coach, would have none of that talk on Sunday.
“You know, if we’re playing against the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan, they outnumber us,” Williams said. “We don’t have as good a chance at that one."
“But the other thing is, you guys have to understand we left here (Saturday) night at 12:45. We went back, we had a nice little snack and some ice cream, and the kids went to bed. I saw them this morning at 11:00 for 30 minutes. We haven’t exactly exhausted the state of the nation’s economy in the last 18 hours."
“So for us, we’re playing Michigan State. I do realize they have a cause. Well, we also have a cause. We want to win a National Championship, period, the end. And if you would tell me that if Michigan State wins, it’s gonna satisfy the nation’s economy, then I’d say, Hell, let’s stay poor for a little while longer. I don’t think that’s gonna happen."
“So if all the workers of America come down and start guarding my butt on the bench, then I’ll start being concerned about it.”
Michigan State has certainly been outstanding guarding people, and that’s the No. 1 reason they have gotten to this point. They completely took overall No. 1 seed Louisville out of its game, allowing just 52 points in the Midwest final. They never let Jeff Adrien and A.J. Price get into their game in the national semifinal on Saturday. Now, they are playing their third straight game against a No. 1 seed.
Can they do it again against Carolina? Here’s a vote for reality and against storybook finishes. Carolina simply has too much. Here’s how North Carolina wins its fifth title tonight in Detroit.
1. Depth: When Ty Lawson picked up two quick fouls on Saturday against Villanova, the Heels didn’t panic.
When Tyler Hansbrough picked up his third early in the second half, again, no worries.
The reason for the calm is the number of bodies Roy Williams has next to him on the bench that can come in, bodies that would be starters on most other Division I programs.
2. Ty Lawson: The bum toe of Lawson has not been a factor, and the point guard has played his best basketball in the tournament.
3. Outside-In: As Carolina showed in the first half on Saturday, they have plenty of scorers who can fire from three-point range.
4. Tyler Hansbrough: The Carolina big man can match up with Goran Suton. That will be fascinating to watch.
5. Us Against The World: Carolina knows full well what the atmosphere is likely to be. Playing in Cameron Indoor Stadium, in many ways, is harder than playing before 72,000 in a domed stadium.
How they got here
No. 2 seed Michigan State won the Midwest Regional. Beat No. 15 Robert Morris, 77-62. Beat No. 11 USC. 74-69. Beat No. 3 Kansas 67-62. Beat No. 1 Louisville, 64-52. Beat No. 1 Connecticut in the Final Four.
No. 1 seed North Carolina won the South Regional. Beat No. 16 Radford, 101-58. Beat No. 8 LSU, 84-70. Beat No. 4 Gonzaga, 98-77. Beat No. 2 Oklahoma, 72-60. Beat No. 3 Villanova, 83-69, in the Final Four.
It certainly won’t be the 98-63 Carolina blowout in the same stadium back on Dec. 3 when these two teams played in East Lansing, but Carolina can handle the pressure that the Spartans will throw at them.
Final take: North Carolina 76, Michigan State 71
The AP contributed to this story.