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Gary Gramling

Three Keys: National Championship Game


After four-and-a-half months of action, college basketball's National Championship is just hours away. How will tonight's re-match of North Carolina vs. Michigan State play out? Here are the keys to look out for...

1. Heels Fast Start
These teams haven't just met before, they met this season and at Ford Field in Detroit, where tonight's title game will be played. On December 3, North Carolina didn't just beat Michigan State. They pounded the Spartans in every way imaginable. It was never a game. If North Carolina can jump out early tonight, they can simply crush the Spartans' spirit and cruise to a victory.

2. Spartans Must Shoot Better
Simply put, Michigan State must hit threes tonight. They were able to shut down Connecticut's offense on Saturday night because the Huskies were too one-dimensional. North Carolina has too many weapons -- both inside and out -- for the Spartans to shut them down. They can only hope to contain them. If MSU doesn't shoot better than the 6 for 19 performance they had against UConn, they won't score enough points to top the Tar Heels. It would be nice to see Goran Suton step up, especially since he played so poorly on Saturday night. Suton missed the first MSU-UNC game back in December.

3. Look to Lucas-Lawson
Carolina's Ty Lawson is the best point guard in the country. Michigan State's Kalin Lucas is one of the best. But you wouldn't have known it based on their performances the first time these two teams met. Lawson did whatever he wanted against Lucas, finishing with 17 points, eight assists, seven steals, and no turnovers in 28 minutes. Lucas, on the other hand, did nothing right. He scored six points on miseable 2 for 10 shooting. If this is a mismatch again tonight, Carolina will cruise to the title.

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