“But this is Ford Field, not the Breslin Center. The Spartans will be playing on that floor for the first time, just like the other three teams.”
If I was Tom Izzo, I’d blindfold my team, drive them around in circles, and try to convince them that the Final Four in which they’re about to participate is nowhere NEAR Detroit.
I’d cover all signs that say Ford Field. I wouldn’t let them look at anything until they were in the locker room. THEN I’d remove the blindfolds. Maybe I’d pipe in some phony anti-MSU rhetoric and tell them that they’re in Chapel Hill or Dallas or Orlando. Anywhere but in Detroit.
I know, not feasible. If only.
There are two sides to the sword, as you know.
One side says that the Spartans, who advanced to the Final Four Sunday by virtue of spanking the Louisville Cardinals (and good), have it made — playing in the Final Four in essentially a “home court” situation. How can it NOT be an advantage, playing such monumental basketball in an arena 90 miles or so away from campus?
But look at which team has all the pressure on it this morning.
The Spartans are in a box. If they fail to win the championship, they’ll go down as the team that couldn’t seal the deal with “home court” in their favor. How many teams even GET such an opportunity?
If they win, well, then they SHOULD have won. They have home court, after all!
Of course, winning is always the best option. Who cares what they say about you, once you’ve become a champion?
The point being, I hope Izzo — and knowing him, he’ll probably take my unsolicited advice — de-emphasizes, as much as possible, this supposed home court advantage the Spartans possess.
Because it really ISN’T a home court advantage.
It’s not like Ford Field is going to be populated with 90% Spartans fans. The NCAA people didn’t go quite THAT far when they awarded the Final Four to Detroit.
“Oh, and if any local team should qualify, then they will be allotted all the tickets.”
The advantage isn’t really all that much of one. It’s all in the head. And the more the Spartans think they hold an advantage, then the worse off they are.
And if they think that UConn is going to cower and bow to them meekly, simply because the game is being played in Detroit, then MSU is REALLY going to be in a world of hurt.
Izzo, who can make the original Prince of Pessimism, Chuck Daly, look positively like Barney the Dinosaur, will no doubt put on his best tired, haggard face and tell the media folks that nothing is in the bank until the check clears. As well he should.
It’s terrific that MSU was able to pick this year, of all years, to make it to the Final Four. Thirtieth anniversary of the 1979 team winning it all. Revenge against Kansas for the 1986 clock debacle. And, of course, the event taking place in Detroit.
But this is Ford Field, not the Breslin Center. The Spartans will be playing on that floor for the first time, just like the other three teams. The stands will not be full of green, from one end to the other. No Izzone.
Conversely, if I was UConn coach Jim Calhoun, I’d make a big deal out of it. I’d tell anyone who’ll listen how tough his kids have it, facing MSU in Detroit. It’s time for some mind games right about now.
MSU in the Final Four, in Detroit? Great!
But not so great, really. And they need to be reminded of that. A lot.