Well boys, that was one crazy day of basketball. Vandy, UF, Richmond, Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame, UNLV, and Texas, all fell to lower seeded teams. 6 double-digit seeded teams won yesterday, marking the most since opening day of the 1991 tourney. 10 games were wins by 5 points or less, and 7 of those 10 were by 3 or less. As for me and my bracket, I only picked one of those upsets, in #11 Washington over #6 Marquette. Yeah, my bracket is in terrible shape. Watching UF and Vandy’s effort yesterday, sure made me wish that MSU had been invited…think we’d have given a little more than what was shown by those 2 yesterday. But then again, BYU forced UF into 21 turnovers, and had 12 steals, and against teams like that, State struggles. But, if they carried over that intense, desperate style of play we saw exhibited in Nashville, who knows? Let’s just hope the Dawgs return to that form vs the North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday (11 am).
I was looking over the MSU/UNC match up, and the advantage on paper clearly falls to the Bulldogs. State’s playing at home, where they are a solid 13-3 on the year. Whereas, when UNC finds themselves away from Chapel Hill, they are a weak 2-8. The Bulldogs are a much better defensive team, allowing only 64.6 ppg, while the Heels give up 72.3 ppg. North Carolina does hold the offensive edge, averaging 3.5 ppg more than MSU. Reading Gregg Ellis’ Facebook page last night, he noted that this game has the media excited, saying “this is the second-highest credential request of the year.” Without doing your research, it would be easy to think of this as the first meeting between the two schools, but it’s actually the 5th. The Heels hold a 4-0 advantage in the series (all games at UNC), which hasn’t been renewed since the 1965 season. If it was any other year, I’d say that MSU would have to play a flawless game to beat UNC, but not this year. There’s no doubt that the Heels might have more talent on their young team than we do with our older and more experienced roster, but this is one case where I’ll trade experience for talent. UNC has 7 McDonald’s All-Americans on this year’s team, but no one would have expected a .500 finish for the regular season. North Carolina can thank quality wins this year over the likes of Michigan State and Ohio State, as to why they even qualified for the NIT. Anyway, enough said, here’s you look at the Heel’s production leaders:
Deon Thompson- 13.8 ppg, 6.3 Rebs
Ed Davis- 12.9 ppg, 9.2 Rebs
Tyler Zeller-9.6 ppg, 4.7 Rebs
Will Graves- 9.3 ppg, 4.7 Rebs
Larry Drew II- 8.4 ppg, 2.5 Rebs
Marcus Ginyard- 8.2 ppg, 4.7 Rebs
And what would this preview be, if there wasn’t a prediction on the other side of it? The best way that State can approach this game vs another historic program such as UNC, is to follow suit with the way they whipped a program of the same caliber earlier this year. That other program, UCLA, who the Bulldogs torched 72-54. MSU has to handle this game looking beyond the other team’s rich traditions, and beat the current young men who wear those famous uniforms, not the ghosts of the program. Prediction: State comes out, inspired by the name of the opposition, and the presence of Roy Williams, and plays all out. In my crystal ball, I can see this one almost going the same way as the Bruin’s game. The Dawgs hit 12 three’s, Varnado has 7 blocks, Stewart plays great D, Ginyard turns it over 5+ times, Bost leads MSU in points, and the Dawgs roll on to victory 79-64. Your Prediction?