by Suzie Raven
The University of North Carolina won the 2009 NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship game within the first few minutes of tip off. With 15:24 left in the first half, all five starters had already scored to give North Carolina (UNC) a 17-7 lead. Michigan State University never recovered, and could only get as close as 78-65 after UNC’s explosive beginning. This game set a record for the biggest deficit at halftime. Final score: North Carolina 89, Michigan State 70.
It was a fairy tale ending for the star players who almost decided to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA) this year. Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green opted into the NBA draft at this time last year, but ultimately decided to return. Lawson scored 21 points while setting a championship-game record with eight steals. Ellington scored 17 in the first half, tying a championship game record.
Tyler Hansbrough is the first Associated Press player of the year to return to college basketball since Shaquille O'Neal in 1991. It turned out to be a great decision. He improved his outside shot while finishing his degree. And got his National Championship. As he said in an interview aired on ESPN after the game, nothing beats that feeling. I agree, and I watched the game on television. I can only imagine how much better it felt to be on the court.
This year, UNC became the first team to unanimously become the number one rated team in the preseason, with many pundits predicting them to win it all. Even though they weren’t rated number one past the middle of January, Carolina’s decisive win fulfills the early prophecies. Dropping from number one in the regular season obviously didn’t matter.
Congratulations to the 2009 National Champions. It was a great season, a great tournament and a great championship game.
Michigan State University
University of North Carolina
National Basketball Assocition
National Collegiate Athletic Association
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by Suzie Raven