Tar Heels, Spartans round out Final Four

Monday, March 30, 2009
JOHN BAZEMORE ~ Associated Press
North Carolina forward Tyler Hansbrough, left, fights Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin for the ball during the first half of the South Regional championship game Sunday in Memphis, Tenn.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Tyler Hansbrough deferred to his teammates -- just as he'd hinted he might.

This was no one-on-one matchup down low. Instead, North Carolina rolled past Blake Griffin and Oklahoma with a total team effort.

Ty Lawson scored 19 points and top-seeded North Carolina overcame a quiet game from Hansbrough to beat the Sooners 72-60 on Sunday in the South Regional final.

North Carolina (32-4) advanced to the Final Four for the second straight year and will play Villanova in the national semifinals.

"This is what we work for," the Tar Heels' Wayne Ellington said. "We put so much work in and sweat in the offseason to get not to this point, but past this point. It means a lot to be able to get to this point and have an opportunity to win the whole thing."

Danny Green scored 18 points for the Tar Heels and Deon Thompson added 10. Hansbrough was in foul trouble early and finished with only eight points, but he'd said the previous day he wasn't going to be caught up in a head-to-head battle with Griffin.

Griffin scored 23 points with 16 rebounds for second-seeded Oklahoma, but the Sooners (30-6) went 2-for-19 from 3-point range.

"One thing about Blake is I think he's tough down low to box out," said Hansbrough, a native of Poplar Bluff, Mo. "I think one thing about him is he's one of the best rebounders I've played against and so that was very tough. I think he gets a lot of stuff off offensive rebounds and his rebounding ability was something I think I'm not really used to seeing."

Still, it was Hansbrough who was standing on the court after the game, posing for pictures while the Tar Heels cut down the nets. That's a routine this program has down pat.

North Carolina reached a record 18th Final Four.

Midwest Regional Michigan State 64, Louisville 52

INDIANAPOLIS -- Michigan State is marching on to Motown.

The Spartans gave the Final Four a hometown feel, stopping overall No. 1 seed Louisville.

Goran Suton had 19 points and 10 rebounds as the second-seeded Spartans (30-6) reached their fifth Final Four in 11 years -- the most trips of any team in the nation during that span.

Only 90 miles from their campus, the Spartans will play Connecticut on Saturday at Ford Field in Detroit. A crowd of 72,000, the largest ever for college basketball's signature event, is expected for each game.

"Detroit, here we come," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, a Michigan native. "I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to that."

Along with advancing, the Spartans prevented a Big East blitz in the Final Four -- Louisville (31-6) was trying to become the third school from the power-packed conference to make it.

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