North Carolina Wins 2009 NCAA Final Four
The 2009 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament was a tournament involving 65 schools playing in a single-elimination tournament to determine the national champion of men's NCAA Division I college basketball as a culmination of the 2008–09 basketball season. It began on March 17, 2009, and concluded with the championship game on April 6 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, where North Carolina defeated Michigan State to become champion. The 2009 tournament marked the first time a Final Four had a minimum seating capacity of 70,000. The University of Detroit Mercy hosted the Final Four, which was the 71st edition.
Prior to the start of the tournament, the top ranked team was Louisville in both the AP Top 25 and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Polls, followed by North Carolina, Memphis and Pittsburgh. Only the Tar Heels of North Carolina were the regional winners and played in the Final Four.
For the first time since seeding began, all #1-#3 seeds made it into the Sweet 16, and for the third consecutive time, all #1 seeds made the Elite Eight.
All final four teams in the tournament have won at least one national championship. North Carolina has the most with four (1957, 1982, 1993, 2005); Connecticut has two (1999, 2004); Michigan State also has two (1979, 2000), and Villanova won one (1985).
The Spartans may have home court advantage by playing in their home state. Six teams have played the Final Four in their home states, only four teams won. UCLA (1968, 1972, 1975) and North Carolina State (1974) won the national title, but Duke (1994) and Purdue (1980) lost in the Final Four. The biggest advantage came in 1968 and 1972 when UCLA played the championship game at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, their home before Pauley Pavilion was built.
Michigan State vs. Connecticut
Michigan State 82, Connecticut 73
Michigan State, with 7 minutes to play, finally took hold of the game and defeated the number one seed Connecticut to advance to the championship game against North Carolina. The Spartans started the game with a 7 point run, but the Huskies would come back to take a lead in the first half. Michigan State took it back and was leading by two at the half. Connecticut had the lead twice early in the second period. Michigan State, led by guard Kalin Lucas with 21 points and forward Raymar Morgan with 18 points, was just too much at the end for the Huskies. Scoring for Connecticut was shared by Jeff Adrien (13), Stanley Robinson (15), Hasheem Thabeet (17) and A.J. Price (15).
Villanova vs. North Carolina
Villanova 69, North Carolina 83
After the first five minutes, North Carolina used an 11-point run to end Villanova's hope for another national championship and put the Tar Heels into the championship game for a chance to win their fifth title in nine trips. Ty Lawson produced 22 points, followed by Wayne Ellington with 20 points and Tyler Hansbrough with 18 points. Hansbrough, the sixth-leading scorer in tournament history, pulled down 11 rebounds. For Roy Williams, who coached North Carolina to a national championship in 2005, it's back to the title game again.
Championship game – Michigan State vs. North Carolina
This 71st title game featured #1 seed North Carolina, which had a 4–4 record in the finals, versus #2 seed Michigan State, which had a 2–0 record going into the game. It was also a matchup featuring future Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo, who guided Michigan State to the championship in 2000 in his 5 trips to the Final Four, against current Hall of Famer Roy Williams, who won the title in 2005 in 7 Final Fours.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1979 national title game between Michigan State Spartans and the Sycamores of Indiana State, Hall of Fame players Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Larry Bird, who played against each other then, presented the game ball at the 2009 NCAA national championship game Monday night.
The many storylines going into the game revolved around the idea of both teams achieving destiny. For North Carolina, this referred to a team that had four star players come back for another year to cap off their dominant run since 2005 with their first National Championship. Likewise, Michigan State took upon itself the role of the nation's underdog, especially by playing the championship game in their home state in the City of Detroit, a city devastated by the United States' economic struggles, particularly that of the Big 3 automakers' recent woes that have plundged both Detroit and the state of Michigan into deep recession. An estimated 50-60,000 Spartan fans were present at the game, which had a capacity of 72,000.
The game was a rematch of "BasketBowl II", of 2009's ACC-Big Ten Challenge, won by the Tar Heels 98–63. That game was also played at Ford Field.
North Carolina, with a first bucket from Deon Thompson, took off and ran to a 21-point lead at the 10-minute mark. The lead grew to 24 with less than 5 minutes remaining in the first half, with most points coming from Wayne Ellington (15). The Spartans were behind 34–55 at the half, a tournament record lead for the Tar Heels. Goran Suton had the most points for Michigan State.
In the second half, Michigan State was able to make a little comeback to within 13 points of North Carolina with 4:56 to go in the game, but was unable to overcome the record 21 turnovers. Roy Williams and his Tar Heels defeated the Spartans 89–72 to take home his second trophy for the university. Ty Lawson set a record with 8 steals.
A deceptively tough run to glory
DETROIT -- It's tempting to say North Carolina was formally presented Monday with a national championship it actually won last summer.
It's tempting to say this thing was over on June 16, 2008. That's the day the last of the Tar Heels' potential NBA draft picks announced they were going back to school -- Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green joining Tyler Hansbrough for one more fling at a ring.
UNC, 2009 National Champions
By Joe Kashner
The team that began the 2009 season as the number one team ended the same way they came out. From the opening tip-off, it was very clear that the Tar Heels were favored for a reason.
The strong Michigan State team had out played many teams to get to the big game, but all the luck in the world could not have helped them against a very well-prepared UNC team under coach Roy Williams.
Michigan State (31-7) had more turnovers in the first half than baskets. They trailed an NCAA record 21 points going in to the second half and simply could not stop the NBA-filled Tar Heels.