CAN MSU BEAT NORTH CAROLINA?

     Tom Izzo seems more concerned about his own team than he is about top ranked and unbeaten North Carolina.  The Tar Heels are fresh from a 68-point win at home over Asheville, a goofy game that was little more than a relaxed practice.  But Carolina won the Maui Classic and looked explosive in beating a decent Notre Dame team, 102-87 in the championship game.

     Michigan State has lost seven of ten games against the Tar Heels.  They last met March 17, 2007 in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with UNC winning 81-67.  Of course it was little more than a home game and that's another issue-- teams playing near home in the NCAA tournament.  But Michigan State goes no farther than Ford Field for Wednesday's game and most of the crowd, whatever it is, figures to back Michigan State.

     The Spartans likely will not have Goran Suton available again.  That means they'll need plenty of others to step up, especially on the front line.  UNC has plenty of athletes, led by All American center Tyler Hansbrough, the reigning player of the year last year as a junior.  Tyler Lawson is a sensational quick guard.  Who checks these guys on defense remains to be seen.  MSU needs to stay out of foul trouble and shoot free throws much better than it has shown in the past.

     Even if the Spartans don't win, as Izzo himself says, it will be a much different Michigan State team come January.  And remember the Final Four at Ford Field is still four months away-- a lot can happen, good and bad, over that stretch for all teams, so who knows how they will look down the road.

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