A Trip to the Vault: North Carolina and Michigan State Face Off in the 2005 Final FourPosted by mpatton on October 7th, 2011
In honor of the upcoming Carrier Classic between Michigan State and North Carolina, here’s a look back at the 2005 Final Four game between the Spartans and Tar Heels. Watching the game was also a great reminder of just how good Roy Williams‘ 2004-05 squad was (especially with regards to depth). The 2005 national championship team probably had a talent advantage over the current team at every position:
- Point Guard: Raymond Felton over Kendall Marshall
- Shooting Guard: Rashad McCants over Dexter Strickland and Reggie Bullock
- Forward: Jackie Manuel, David Noel, Jawad Williams and Marvin Williams over Harrison Barnes, John Henson and James McAdoo (this is the most up-in-the-air position, but I’d give the 2005 team a slight advantage for going four players deep)
- Center: Sean May over Tyler Zeller
See highlights and analysis after the jump.
19:20 – Billy Packer (I already miss Len Elmore): “Oh, I think this is going to be a much faster pace than we saw in the first game.” That’s a mild way to put it…I’m not sure Raymond Felton ever walked up the court.
16:55 – Felton picks up his second foul in the first three minutes. So far the game has been pretty out of control for both teams, but the pace definitely favors North Carolina.
14:17 – After a beautiful Felton – Rashad McCants alley-hoop and gets a big block on the other end that ends with Felton threading a pass into David Noel for a dunk. That sequence was the essence of the 2004-05 North Carolina team: capitalizing before teams even realized they made a mistake. It also tied the game up at ten apiece.
13:14 – With the game still tied, Michigan State has started looking flustered on offense. The best advice you could give someone playing UNC was to be play your style, don’t make mistakes and don’t let the Tar Heel runs get to you.
10:30 – Finally, Sean May checks into the game. He was really the X-factor for this team because he made it effective in halfcourt sets. Give credit to the Spartans though who are totally holding their own so far, largely thanks to a heroic effort from Maurice Ager.
05:39 – Suddenly, Michigan State feels in control. With Felton out, North Carolina’s offense has looked sluggish and sloppy while the Spartans have been cleaning up on the offensive glass.
03:09 – This gutsy strip by Felton (he has two fouls) keeps Michigan State from getting a free lay-up off of a breakaway. Shannon Brown proceeds to knock down two threes from the corner anyways and put the Spartans up eight.
Halftime – The first half wasn’t a pretty one, but thanks to an 18-8 closing run by Michigan State, the Spartans have a five point lead. A couple of big stats to take note of are: UNC only attempted one free throw in the half, Michigan State grabbed nine offensive boards, and the Tar Heels committed far more turnovers than usual. Michigan State is going to need to keep protecting the ball (which in turn protects from a fast break) to stay on top in the second half.
Author’s Note: It’s amazing how quickly I started cringing every time David Noel or Jackie Manuel took a shot. The Plumlees had a similar effect last year for Duke. Seriously though, anything outside of a dunk was lucky to hit the rim.
18:07 – Felton reminds Michigan State what North Carolina is best at with a backdoor cut alley-hoop to Jawad Williams. This feels like a chage in momentum. Ager and Shannon Brown have been crucial for the Spartans so far.
15:54 – Game continues to be back-and-forth. The real highlight here was Matt Trannon picking Felton’s pocket and taking it the other way for the slam.
12:31 – McCants drains a three to put the Tar Heels up ten, forcing Tom Izzo to use a timeout. They could not miss the first seven minutes of the half.
10:10 – We’ve officially entered Michigan State’s danger zone. North Carolina is shooting near 70% from the field so far, and the Spartans haven’t been able to keep the Tar Heels off the defensive glass. The lead is at 15. Michigan State desperately needs a run, but turns it over on a five second call.
05:19 – Sean May’s jumper pushes the lead to 17. Between Jawad Williams being everywhere (he’s got 20 points on nine of thirteen shooting and at least a couple of blocks) and unforced errors, the Spartans are in big trouble.
03:49 – Maurice Ager hits a dagger step back form NBA range to give the Spartans a pulse, down eleven.
Billy Packer Gem of Wisdom: “The team that gives up the lead sometimes allows the comeback.”
03:18 – Those alley-hoops are back breakers (with a block in between). May now has 22 points (18 of which came in the second half).
Eventually the pace was too much for Michigan State. Ager and Brown just weren’t enough. For North Carolina, the game showed just how deep the 2004-05 team was. Jawad Williams put up 20 points and eight rebounds, keeping the game close in the first half while Felton and the backcourt struggled with turnovers.