6:15 p.m. at Detroit
N. Carolina -7½ vs Michigan St (153½)
You can’t really call Michigan State a Cinderella team, but it’s still hard to image the Spartans could be playing for the national championship after losing to North Carolina in the very same Ford Field by 35 points last December. Surely, a lot of things have changed. Michigan State has knocked off two No. 1 seeds in the tourney – Louisville and Connecticut. They have been winning with balanced scoring and depth that can go 11 players on Coach Tom Izzo’s bench.
North Carolina has breezed through the tournament, with 12 points the closest anyone has come. Ty Lawson has showed no ill effects from a nagging toe injury and the Heels have gotten timely 3-point shooting from Danny Green to offset an average postseason for Tyler Hansbrough, last year’s national player of the year. North Carolina was able to shut down both Oklahoma and Villanova from 3-point land, but Michigan State lives off inside play and rebounding where they led the nation.
The 78,000 at Ford Field give the Spartans a huge edge, not to mention having icons Magic Johnson and Judd Heathcote sitting behind the bench for support. It may be safer to look at the total. Four of the five Michigan State games have landed below 153½. Izzo will not want to see another 98 on the board for UNC so we expect State to slow down the tempo and try to wear down the Heels through a wave of substitutions. UNDER.