NCAA title game instant analysis
Starnet=slocal DETROIT | No contest.
North Carolina ran away with the NCAA national championship game with an 89-72 victory over Michigan State on Monday, and it was never close.
The Tar Heels soared to a 21-point halftime lead and held off a couple of mini-Spartans rallies to claim the school’s fifth national championship.
Only UCLA (11) and Kentucky (seven) have more.
Coach Roy Williams, who led Kansas to four Final Fours in his 15 years in Lawrence, collected his second national championship at North Carolina. The total matches his mentor, Dean Smith.
Michigan State’s magical run came to an abrupt halt. The blue collar Spartans had captured the imagination of their economically depressed state with a sensational run through the tournament. An emotional stimulus package some called it.
But the Spartans ran into a superior team on a night when nothing worked for them.
Michigan State had locked up opponents like Kansas, Louisville and Connecticut. The Spartans’s suffocating defense held teams to 41 percent floor shooting and 28 percent from the three-point stripe.
But early on, North Carolina executed like Michigan State wasn’t on the floor. Four possessions into the game, the Tar Heels scored twice close to the hoop, got Danny Green’s three-pointer and Tyler Hansbrough’s free throw.
The Tar Heels were on their way. By the first media timeout, North Carolina led by 10 and it would never get closer.
The Tar Heels raced to the biggest halftime lead in championship game history at 55-34. And no team had scored as many as North Carolina’s total in a first half.
Including the Tar Heels’ 35-point victory in the same building over Michigan State in December, North Carolina had outscored the Spartans by 56 points over the previous three halves.
What made it interesting — and this has been an NCAA Tournament reality — was the Tar Heels’ changed focus. Hansbrough, the alltime leading scorer in ACC history, morphed into a role player.
North Carolina was driven by point guard Ty Lawson as always but Wayne Ellington and Green were taking more shots and Lawson and Ellington outscored Hansbrough in the NCAA Tournament.
Ellington had 17 at the break. He had made all of his rainbow three-pointers and was impossible to defend curling around a screen. The Heels were shooting 53 percent, and were playing excellent defense, forcing 14 Michigan State turnovers.
Since the second half of the LSU game in the second round, which was tied with eight minutes remaining, the Tar Heels dominated.
They crushed everybody, Gonzaga by 21, Oklahoma by 12 and the Sooners rallied to get it that close, and Villanova by 14. This was a team that was showered with attention in the preseason, becoming the first team to gain every first –place vote in the preseason polls. This was a team driven by an embarrassing loss to Kansas in last year’s national semifinal. The starting five and top six scorers from last year returned..
Monday we saw what all the fuss was about.