Tomorrow, men's basketball championship ... an end to March Madness. 6:21 Pacific. MSU vs. UNC.

MindTouch has a big Michigan & UNC contingent ... so it'll be interesting.

This is one heckuva matchup. The media loves it - Michigan State, #2 seed in its region, ousted Big East powerhouses Louisville and UConn on its way to the championship game (in effect becoming the Big East champions, kind of like UNC when it went through Wisconsin, MSU, and Illionis to win the '05 championship). The championship game is held at Ford Field in Detroit, which is basically a home game for MSU (expected attendence of MSU fans: 50,000 ... wow).

ESPN seems to have tapped into the national conscious by talking up how MSU represents the one glimmer of hope in Michigan after everything they're going through. If I were writing a screenplay for a Disney movie, you really couldn't write it better than this. A scrappy team led by a charismatic coach, beats everybody's expectations to have them reach the finals in their hometown against the team that is expected to win - the more talented, the more loaded Tar Heels. 

It's kind of like Drago vs. Rocky. Or maybe it's the Patriots vs. the Giants. Let's hope the Heels hold out!

This MSU team does seem to have destiny and home field on its side. UNC and MSU did play earlier this year at Ford Field, where Carolina whooped up MSU 98-63. And there's the problem: Carolina goes into this a lose-lose. Win, and we're only meeting expectations. Even worse, we've crapped on Michigan. Lose, and well... we weren't supposed to lose!

. . .

A quick point: I've had my reservations about the "strength" of the Big East this year - I always thought the traditionally strong conferences (ACC / Big 10 / Pac-10) were pretty weak this year, which made the Big East seem better by comparison. I'm glad we bounced 'Nova out, so I can stop reading about the Big East. It reminds me of those few years when Carolina sucked (the dreaded "8-20" year) and Maryland kept claiming itself as Duke's archrival... please.

. . .

I try to keep the Dukie-bashing to a minimum on here, but I just have to throw some gasoline on the fire: What's up with Duke? They've had really disappointing exits from the tournament the last five or so years.

Posted by roy on April 6, 2009 at 12:04 AM in Sports | 8 Comments

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PM5K (guest)

Comment posted on April 6th, 2009 at 10:15 PM
Have you seen the HBO doc Battle For Tobacco Road?
Comment posted on April 6th, 2009 at 10:44 PM
No, have you?

PM5K (guest)

Comment posted on April 7th, 2009 at 11:15 AM
Yes, but i figure it might be of more interest to you than it was to me...
Comment posted on April 6th, 2009 at 06:05 PM
sometimes sir, the 3's just don't fall... and when that's all you've got going for your team...
Comment posted on April 6th, 2009 at 09:13 AM
Comment posted on April 6th, 2009 at 12:58 AM
oh please. let's not start this.

here's my take on duke's 'downfall' in recent memory. our string of supreme, unmatched success in the late 80s, most of the 90s and early 2000s were due to one common denominator.

Multiple blue chip players per year committing to stay at school for multiple years. Not only were these players highly touted, but they also developed themselves continuously for years.

As soon as it was trendy to jump straight to the NBA from high school, we started losing high caliber recruits at a much quicker pace than anticipated.

Furthermore, in the past 3 years, the quality of talent coming into Durham has dropped two notches. Why? B/c Coach K wasn't really recruiting hard. He was spending all his time on the Olympics while other schools went on a spending spree. On top of that, the school pretty much refused to recruit top talent that were apt to be 'one and done' after getting burned by Luol Deng and Shaun Livingston.

This year wasn't a disappointing exit at all imo. The last two years? Yes, definitely. In fact, this year's team overachieved. You'd have to press hard to find a team that won 30 games overall, won the acc championshp, and changed their starting rotation drastically (20 games into the season), and get to the sweet 16 with the talent level that they have. (read: only singler and henderson are legit)
Comment posted on April 6th, 2009 at 01:18 AM
while the olympics probably did hurt the recruiting efforts of coach k, how is it that the jumps from the nba to high school directly hurt duke? other schools also have to deal with this.

i'd say given the caliber of duke, with the returning team from last year, getting to the sweet sixteen was an expectation, not an achievement. what sucked about this year is that duke didn't just bounce from the tourney, duke got trounced from the tourney - exiting to a 20+ point loss to 'nova really isn't something you'd expect from a high caliber school.

i don't know what's going on with coach k, but he's been having some major brain farts in march the past couple years (2006 is inexcusable). tell him to quit coaching olympics and focus on the college game.
Comment posted on April 6th, 2009 at 08:28 AM
the jumps from hs to nba have directly hurt duke b/c that totally changed the way coach K has had to recruit and develop his players, AND coach. he didn't have to deal with any early departures until 1999. that's 19 years of stability. and like i've said before, once that happened, it wasn't as easy for duke to regularly get to the final 4. if luol deng had stayed one or two more years, if shuan livingston would have come to duke, and etc. it would have been a totally different story the past few years.

as for this year's team, i agree with the initial expectation of getting to the sweet 16. it makes logical sense that a team that returns everyone sans the sr departures would mature and develop.

what's unexpected was Paulus totally unraveling and losing his job to Nolan Smith. what's even more unexpected is, after winning about 20 games to start off the season, is the fact that Nolan Smith would totally unravel as the starting PG (with the string of losses in the acc) and force Coach K to goto a lineup that had never played together as a starting 5 before. essentially, they rebooted and had 10 games to develop into a ncaa tourney caliber team. looking at the season from that aspect, i think we've overachieved. even all the 'experts' at espn were agreeing with me on that one.

losing to a nova team by that much was frustrating and painful. but at that pt, for me, i was happy that we didn't perform like the last two years. none of those guys had been that far into the tourney before. they played like panicked hs players.

i totally agree with your last sentence. i've been imploring him to do just that for the past 2 years. we've missed out on some great recruits the past couple of years (patrick patterson, greg monroe, Kenny Boynton) due to his olympic commitment. now that his 3 yr commitment to team usa is over, i think we're going to start seeing some results. Hopefully Seth Curry will help. What we really need though is a true PG or a really really good combo guard that we haven't had since Jason Williams. And of course, a legit big man that we haven' thad since Shelden Williams. a team of just wingmen won't get far in the tourney, ever.