The No. 1 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels started their 2011 season off with a convincing 67-55 win over the Michigan State Spartans last Friday night. But the big winner that night were the men and women of the United States Military who constantly put their lives on the line for our freedom.
On one of the most amazing venues in the history of sports, the highly anticipated UNC vs. MSU game took place aboard an aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson for the 2011 Quicken Loans Carrier Classic. This was a special night unlike any other.
A great game was played between two prestigious college basketball programs, with both teams wearing Nike camouflage jerseys with "U.S.A." on their nameplates. The celebration of Veterans Day on the carrier was played before 7,000 spectators, including President Obama and many military service members who protect our country day in and day out.
North Carolina, led by coach Roy Williams, came into the season as preseason favorites to win the national championship, and for the majority of the game against Michigan State they showed why expectations are so high.
With all five starters as potential NBA first-round picks and arguably the best front court in college basketball with Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and John Henson, the Tar Heels are expected to make a deep run in this season's NCAA tournament.
Michigan State is looking to bounce back from a very disappointing season last year, but the Spartans struggled against the extremely talented Tar Heels. Last year MSU was ranked No. 2 going in to the season, but injuries, key players being dismissed from the team, character issues and lack of chemistry contributed to their disappointing 19-15 record (9-9 in the Big Ten).
This was the first year since 2006-2007 that Michigan State was not ranked going into the season, but this is a much different squad from last year. Spartans coach Tom Izzo said his team will be fun to watch and believes this year's team will be better than last year's squad.
Leading the way for the Spartans is forward Draymond Green, one of the most talented all-around players in all of college basketball. This is a young team with a lot of talent that can only go up from last year.
Friday's game between North Carolina and Michigan State was great for the fans, for college basketball and for those U.S. military members who keep our country safe. Although UNC was the winner on the scoreboard, it's safe to say that those who serve in the United States armed forces were the winners of the night.