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Posted: Sunday April 5, 2009 9:40PM; Updated: Monday April 6, 2009 10:03AM
Andy Staples Andy Staples >
AT THE TOURNEY

Five reasons why North Carolina will win

Story Highlights

North Carolina has already crushed Michigan State and has a psychological edge

In his last collegiate game, Psycho T will do anything to go out on top

Despite the homecourt edge and a city pulling for Michigan St., UNC is better

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Ty Lawson and the Tar Heels had no trouble with Kalin Lucas and the Spartans in December.
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1. The Tar Heels already beat Michigan State once -- and crushed them. After three games in the week leading up to Dec. 3, the Spartans didn't have their legs. They also didn't have center Goran Suton, who missed the game with a knee injury. Still, the Tar Heels won by 35 points. The Spartans barely put up a fight. That has to give North Carolina a bit of a psychological edge.

2. The Tar Heels got their sloppy game out of their system Saturday. Fortunately for Carolina, Villanova played even sloppier. North Carolina got outrebounded by a team that plays four guards and still won by 14. The Tar Heels also made just 59.5 percent of their free throws. That's 11 percent below their tournament average and 15.9 percent below their season average.

As physical as the Spartans are, point guard Ty Lawson and center Tyler Hansbrough will get to the line. If they hit their free throws, North Carolina should be fine.

3. North Carolina has the depth to cope with the waves of humanity Michigan State will throw at them. Earlier this season, Carolina coach Roy Williams might have worried about playing freshmen Ed Davis or Larry Drew II on such a big stage, but not anymore. In the ACC and NCAA tournaments, Davis has averaged 7.7 points and 5.4 rebounds. If one of North Carolina's bigs gets in foul trouble, Davis is a more-than-adequate replacement. Now, if Williams can only keep the NBA scouts away from Davis.

4. Hansbrough won't let them lose. Hansbrough swears he doesn't worry about how a national title -- or lack thereof -- will affect his legacy. "I'm not going to look at my career as a failure if we don't win a national championship," Hansbrough said Sunday. "There are always going to be those people who say I'm not a good player or that I'm overrated no matter whether we win a national title or not. So it doesn't make me look at anything any different."

Hansbrough is a guy who attacks a loose ball like a starving man would attack a Pop-Tart. No matter what he says, he cares deeply about winning this title. In fact, he's been dreaming about it his whole life. "In fifth grade, I used to always play in my back yard and lower my hoop to 8 feet and pretend I was on a big-time team playing for a national championship," Hansbrough said. "I still think the best games of my life have been in my backyard." Hansbrough will try to replace his back yard with Ford Field sometime early Tuesday morning.

5. North Carolina is just better. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo admitted as much Sunday. "If we play good and they play good, we're losing," Izzo said. It's the national title game. There's no excuse to play poorly.

 
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