2009 March Madness – North Carolina Wins 5th National Title As Upstart Michigan State Falters

Coach Roy Williams’ North Carolina Tar Heels started their season ranked #1 and ended their season #1 with their 5th National Championship as North Carolina easily beat #2-seeded Michigan State 89-72 in the only game that counted-the match to determine the nation’s best team for the 2008-2009 season.

A potential 4 NBA draft picks at North Carolina-Ty Lawson, Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green-stayed on for another year rather than entering the draft last year. There was some unfinished business as the Tar Heels lost to Kansas 84-66 in one of last year’s semi-final games. Kansas would advance to beat Memphis 75-68 in the National Championship Game.

Michigan State played the toughest schedule to get to the Championship Game. The Spartans beat #3-seeded Kansas 67-62, #1-seeded Louisville 64-52 and #1-seeded Connecticut 82-73. Despite their upstart run to a potential national title, the Spartans fell flat against North Carolina.

In the early going, Michigan State could not stop-never mind defend-North Carolina’s assault. The Tar Heels set a halftime record for a title game by jumping to a 21-point lead (55-34) and then set another record by scoring 55 points in the first half. The Spartans had exactly 8 field goals and 10 turnovers with 5:55 left to play in the first half.

Michigan State could not get in the paint, could not get the ball to its 6-foot-10 center Goran Suton in the paint, and could barely get the ball to halfcourt without it being stolen or throwing it out-of-bounds. Unfortunately for the Spartans, things did not get appreciably better in the second half.

North Carolina beat every team it played in the single-elimination tournament by double digits. They looked as good as they apparently were, and looked even better in the title game.

Many fans, players and coaches might think that Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh or Memphis would have been a more worthy opponent than Michigan State. What they really need to do is to shut up and recognize that they had their chance and blew it.

And so this season ends with some very interesting rankings in the final polls.

There is a tremendous difference between the season-ending final rankings for the AP Top 25 Poll and the Coaches Poll. In the Coaches Poll North Carolina ends up #1 with all 31 first-place votes.

In the AP Top 25 Poll Louisville gets the #1 spot by garnering 45 of 71 votes among the media (sportswriters and sportscasters). North Carolina had only 11 first-place votes, Memphis also got 11, Pittsburgh 3 and Connecticut 1.

Good grief, talk about homers. I guarantee you that a North Carolina media type did not give their first-place vote to Memphis, Pittsburgh, Connecticut or Louisville. So much for any semblance of objectivity.

Michigan State eliminated both #1-seeded Louisville and #1-seeded Connecticut as the Spartans marched on to the National Championship Game. The media types saw Michigan State as #8 in their final poll. Clearly, these media types drink too much after watching games and are sore losers when backing their favorite teams.

Here is the Final AP Top 25 Poll:

#1 Louisville (31-6), #2 North Carolina (34-4), #3 Memphis (33-4), #4 Pittsburgh (31-5), #5 Connecticut (31-5), #6 Duke (30-7), #7 Oklahoma (30-6), #8 Michigan State (31-7), #9 Missouri (31-7), #10 Gonzaga (28-6), #11 Villanova (30-8), #12 Wake Forest (24-7), #13 Syracuse (28-10), #14 Kansas (27-8), #15 Washington (26-9), #16 Florida State (25-10), #17 Purdue (27-10), #18 UCLA (26-9), #19 Arizona State (25-10), #20 Xavier (27-8), #21 LSU (27-8), #22 Butler (26-6), #23 Marquette (25-10), #24 Clemson (23-9) and #25 Utah (24-10).

Here is the Final Coaches Poll:

#1 North Carolina, #2 Michigan State, #3 Connecticut, #4 Villanova, #5 Louisville, #6 Pittsburgh, #7 Oklahoma, #8 Missouri, #9 Memphis, #10 Kansas, #11 Duke, #12 Syracuse, #13 Gonzaga, #14 Purdue, #15 Xavier, #16 Washington, #17 LSU, #18 UCLA, #19 Arizona State, #20 Wake Forest, #21 Marquette, #22 Florida State, #23 Texas, #24 Arizona and #25 Butler.

Do you think that the coaches may have been paying a little bit more attention to the actual results of the 2009 March Madness Tournament when the teams in question had to prove their ranking against top competition?

Jeff Sagarin’s head-to-head quantitative method produced a totally different set of ratings with two major gaffes-Sagarin identified #14 Washington as Washington State and #83 Washington State as Washington. Perhaps Sagarin (or one of his staffers) had one too many pink lemonades when compiling the final stats.

These two mistakes were still displayed on the USA Today website as of Thursday (4-9-09) at 6:40 p.m. PST, two days after their release.

Here is Jeff Sagarin’s Final Top Teams:

#1 Kansas, #2 Memphis, #3 North Carolina, #4 UCLA, #5 Wisconsin, #6 Texas, #7 Duke, #8 Louisville, #9 Tennessee, #10 Georgetown, #11 Xavier, #12 Davidson, #13 Stanford, #14 Washington (misidentified as Washington State), #15 Michigan State, #16 West Virginia, #17 Marquette, #18 Texas A&M, #19 Pittsburgh, #20 Butler, #21Ohio State, #22 Notre Dame, #23 Clemson, #24 Drake and #25 Indiana.

If college football had a national playoff system like college basketball, you would probably see the same screwy results in both the AP Top 25 Poll and Sagarin’s Top Teams.

Among Sagarin’s Top 25, the team that played the toughest schedule during the season was Texas, rated #4 nationally among the 341 Division 1 teams.

Here are the 2009 NCAA Tournament National Semifinal Results:

#2 Michigan State upset #1 Connecticut 82-73

#1 North Carolina eliminated #3 Villanova 83-69

Here is the 2009 NCAA Tournament National Championship Game Final Result:

#1 North Carolina eliminated #2 Michigan State 89-72

Copyright ?2009 Ed Bagley

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