2009 Men’s NCAA Championship Game: Michigan State Spartans vs. North Carolina Tarheels Preview and Pick

2009 NCAA Mens Basketball National Championship Game

Michigan State (31-6) +7.5, 153 O/U vs. North Carolina Tar Heels
(33-4) -7.5, 153 O/U, Ford Field, Detroit, Mich., Monday, April 6th,
9:15 PM EST, CBS

by Badger of Predictem.com

Will the Michigan State Spartans continue their improbable march
toward an NCAA Mens Basketball title at their new home away from
home Ford Field on Monday night, or will they finally run into the
buzz saw that is the North Carolina Tar Heels looking to finally make
good on their lofty preseason No.1 ranking?

The Spartans continued their storybook NCAA tournament run with a
spectacular, 82-73, victory over the Connecticut Huskies in
Saturdays early Final Four game. Point guard Kalin Lucas had 21
points and his backcourt mate Raymar Morgan added 18 as the Spartans
outran the Huskies in the transition game.

But the Spartans will more than likely have to go back to their traditional,
methodical, Big 10-defensive approach versus the Tar Heels if they hope
to contain the boys from Chapell Hill. North Carolina appears to be on a
mission to win the title because they dismantled a strong Villanova team
on Saturday, 83-69, giving them a double-digit victory for every game of
the NCAA tournament.

Oddsmakers opened the title game with the Tar Heels as 7.5-point favorites, the same or nearly the same number they have been favored
by in each of their last three games in the tourney (-7.5 vs.
Gonzaga; -7 vs. Oklahoma; -7 vs. Villanova). Sportsbetting.com has already moved the
number to North Carolina minus 8-points, but for the most part the
rest of the offshore sportsbooks have held firm at 7.5.

The over/under total opened at 155 and was hammered enough by sharp
bettors early on that it dropped all the way to 152.5 at most books.
You will still see it listed at 152.5 at most books, but there are a
few 153s and 154s at the offshore sportsbooks as they adjust the take
back to even.

Mondays game will hinge on Michigan States ability to protect the
ball and play defense, something that killed them back in December
when the Tar Hells hung 98 points on them in a lopsided, 98-63,
victory on the same floor at Ford Field.

Not much went right for the Spartans on that Wednesday night. North
Carolinas Tyler Hansbrough controlled the paint by scoring 25 points
and grabbing 11 rebounds, and Ty Lawson dished out 8 assists and had
seven of the Tar Heels nine steals in the game. The Tar Heels also
forced Michigan State into 21 turnovers, giving the Spartans a total
of 30 scoreless possessions in the game to turn a good game into a
slow and painful beatdown.

The good news is that Michigan State has been playing great defense
so far in the tourney. They held Connecticut point guard A.J. Price
to just 17 points (on 4-of-20 shooting) on Saturday. The other
positive for the Spartans is the fact that center Goran Suton did not
play in the game back in December, so Hansbrough will have to work a
little harder to earn his space in the paint on Monday.

Both teams have been good to faithful bettors in the tourney so far,
as both have covered the point spread in every game for a perfect 5-0
ATS record.

All but one of the Tar Heels first five games have stayed under the
total, with the exception coming against a high-scoring Gonzaga team.
After playing suffocating defense in wins over Kansas and Louisville
and coming in under the total in both, the Spartans running ways
shocked the Huskies and bettors alike as they easily went over the
total in their Final Four game to move them to 3-2 versus the number
in the tourney.

Badgers Pick: After witnessing the coaching job by Tom Izzo versus
Louisville and UConn in back-to-back games, I got to believe hes
capable of one more defensive miracle. But that said, I still think
the Tar Heels are too strong to stop. North Carolina wins and covers
the spread with late free throws in the final minute. Take North
Carolina minus the 7.5-points and the under of 154.