Sunday, March 29, 2009

Izzo: "Detroit, Here We Come!" Michigan State Makes the Final Four

When I saw how Louisville had smoked Arizona, and MSU had to scrap it out against Kansas, I really had my doubts about this game - as did all the experts.

The Spartans erased all doubt today by playing up, over and above a hot Cardinals team, and will be coming home to the Motor City to face Connecticut in the Final Four next Saturday. How sweet it is!

Michigan State is going back to the Final Four -- and won't have to go far to get there.

The Spartans dispatched Louisville, the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, with a 64-52 victory Sunday afternoon in the Midwest Regional final.

Michigan State will face another No. 1 seed, Connecticut, in the national semifinals Saturday. With a scoring spurt midway through the second half, Michigan State led, 60-47, with 3:54 remaining in the game. The Spartans survived a first half of constant Louisville full-court defensive pressure and earned a 30-27 lead at Lucas Oil Stadium.

And in case you hadn't heard, that Final Four floor was made right here in Michigan. The floor made a tour of the state last week, starting at the manufacturer Connor Sports Flooring in Amasa in the UP, to final assembly at Ford Field last Thursday.

The portable flooring system consists of 232 4-foot by 8-foot panels, most of which weigh 188 pounds apiece -- 21 tons total.

It takes a crew of eight to 10 workers about three hours to assemble the court, which rests 29 inches above the football field.

When the crew put the center-court pieces together, revealing the bold blue, black and gray design, organizing committee member Keri Gaither paused to take it all in.

"I almost had a tear, to see the floor and scoreboard," said Gaither, athletic director at Detroit Mercy, the Final Four's host school. "I just see it all and say it's tremendous."

The game is expected to draw 70,000 fans and bring in $30-$50 million to the local economy, and with State in the Final Four, I bet it will be closer to the latter with all the local interest.

This has been some big fun. Let's go State!