Spartans are “close to special,” North Carolina is just nasty

04.05.09 9 years ago 33 Comments
UNC's Wayne Ellington

UNC's Wayne Ellington

After Michigan State upset UConn in the first of yesterday’s Final Four games, Jim Calhoun said, “We’re pretty good, but they’re close to special.” But are the Spartans special enough now to handle North Carolina? State came out hot like cayenne pepper on UConn, seemingly scoring on every offensive possession for the first five minutes, punching UConn in the mouth first and maintaining that momentum throughout … Kalin Lucas scored 21, Raymar Morgan had 18 points, nine boards and five steals, and Durrell Summers provided the “One Shining Moment” image with his poster dunk on Stanley Robinson. MSU’s defense took A.J. Price out of his game (5-20 FG) and made Hasheem Thabeet a non-factor early, and the offense ran better than anyone expected, showing an athleticism that could help them hang in there against UNC … Now about those Tar Heels. They didn’t quite play their “A” game, yet they still dispatched of Villanova pretty easily. The Big Three of Ty Lawson (22 pts, 7 rebs, 8 asts), Wayne Ellington (20 pts, 5 threes) and Tyler Hansbrough (18 pts, 11 rebs) carried UNC, and the defense was too much for ‘Nova on an off shooting night … You notice how State has already been cast as the ultimate good guys? No only are they underdogs, Tom Izzo has played up the feel-good story of representing Detroit in these tough economic times for the city. Surprisingly, Carolina and its lineage of rich plantation owners doesn’t come off as sympathetic … What was up with ESPN’s Hubert Davis acting like it’s just a “possibility” Thabeet is going pro? Nate Miles will play another game at UConn before Thabeet does … Some of the Dime crew is in Detroit for some Final Four-related business. We’ve been watching the MSU fans drink all weekend like they’re gearing up for battle, and after they beat UConn somebody warned, “The city may be destroyed tonight.” … We were at UNC’s hotel a few hours before tip-off, and some former Tar Heels were getting mobbed by their fans (guys like Eric Montross). And for at least an hour, there was this older man with a huge crowd of people around him. For the longest we couldn’t tell who it was. Bill Guthridge? No. “The Kangaroo Kid” Billy Cunnigham? No. Turns out it was Tyler Hansbrough’s dad. Seriously. People were treating him like a rock star, asking him to autograph Psycho T’s #50 UNC jersey and pose for photos. That’s how nuts the Final Four can get …

Andre Iguodala (photo. Kelly Turso)

Andre Iguodala (photo. Kelly Turso)

The NBA postseason is taking shape, as the Sixers clinched a playoff spot with their win over the Pistons. The obvious story line going in was Allen Iverson‘s non-return to Philly, but it ended up being the Sixers’ current lead guard, Andre Miller, and their current “A.I.,” Andre Iguodala. Miller posted a triple-double (21 pts, 10 rebs, 12 asts) and Iguodala dropped 31 points … If Miller and A.I.2 are clicking in the playoffs like they were yesterday, whoever draws them in the first round — right now it would be Atlanta — has a problem. At least 2-3 times they hooked up for alley-oops where Iguodala got a step behind the defense and Miller found him right away, and a couple other times they connected on run-outs where Iguodala took off after a miss and Miller hit him with the TD pass for a dunk … Tired legs for the Pistons? On two of their most critical possessions late in the fourth, Rodney Stuckey (23 pts) and Rasheed short-armed threes off the front of the rim … Right on Philly’s heels for that 5th seed is Miami. D-Wade posted 33 points and eight dimes in their win at Washington last night, including a “Welcome to the NBA” dunk on JaVale McGee and a nasty step-back three on Dominic McGuire. Call it child abuse … Gilbert Arenas didn’t play. We thought we had a handle on Arenas’ schedule for the rest of the season: He wouldn’t play in back-to-backs, he wouldn’t play in many road games, and he’d definitely play against high-profile opponents. Last night’s game was in D.C., it wasn’t on a back-to-back, and it was against Wade’s very high-profile squad. So who knows what that was all about … Other big stat lines from Saturday: Dwight Howard went for 21 points, 23 boards and four blocks in a win at Atlanta; Rudy Gay scored 26 in a win at Milwaukee; Andrea Bargnani put up 23 points and four blocks in a win at New York; J.R. Smith dropped 34 points and seven triples in a win over the Clippers; and Brook Lopez posted 20 points, 10 boards and three blocks in a loss to Chicago … The Knicks’ loss officially knocked them out of the playoff race, but having won six games in a row, the Raptors are still breathing. “We keep playing. We don’t pay attention to the standings,” Chris Bosh said afterwards. “We just try to win the next game and they say we’re not eliminated yet, so until that day we have to prepare the right way for every game.” Not watching the standings? That’s the biggest lie Bosh has told since he said, “Maury, I’m 120 percent positive I am NOT the father!” … We’re out like Thabeet …

Around The Web