It's opening day for baseball, NHL playoffs start a little over a week followed by the NBA and then the draft is in less than three weeks. And MSU basketball plays its most important game in the history of the program.
The Spartans are a decided underdog in this game with the Heels. And after losing by 35 in December, you would think that this game wouldn't even be close. But it isn't like they can't pull this upset off (especailly with Tom Izzo coaching). But they have to do three things to pull off the win:
1. Defense with smarts - translated means defend the ball but stay out of foul trouble. MSU ran into problems against UConn with players with two-three fouls very early in the game. The thing that saved them was UConn didn't make free throws and they didn't attack the players with the foul trouble. UNC can hit the three from anywhere from 23' and in. MSU can't relax at any time on defense - if they do, UNC will eat them alive.
2. Rebound - 18 offensive rebounds against UConn certainly helped Saturday night. You would have thought with Thabeet in the lineup, UConn would have limited MSU's ability to attack the offensive glass. If MSU can rebound from the offensive glass, they can pick up second chance points to avoid empty possessions.
3. Ride the emotion - this is supposed to be a 'neutral court' game. But with upwards of 50,000 fans clad in green and white, if MSU can keep the game close the crowd can certainly become a sixth man. The UConn game showed us that when MSU made a big play, the crowd certainly let its opinion known. Jim Calhoun said it didn't influence his team, but it did help MSU. The same can happen with UNC and it might even influence the way UNC could play.
I'm looking forward to a great game. And win or lose, MSU had a great season. Good job guys.