- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2009

DETROIT | Either Michigan State’s Tom Izzo or North Carolina’s Roy Williams will become the 13th coach in NCAA tournament history to collect two titles when their teams meet Monday at Ford Field.

But given the lessons history offers, consider it advantage Izzo.

The Spartans’ coach is 14-2 in his career in the second game at a tournament site. That includes the 2000 title game against Florida that netted Michigan State its second national championship in school history.

Izzo on Sunday recalled his first quick turnaround - a 1998 second-round game against a plucky Princeton team that spent much of the season ranked in the top 20.

Michigan State survived that game - just as it did in this year’s tournament against Southern California (second round) and Louisville (regional final).

“I told them something the first weekend, and I think they believe it,” Izzo said. “I said, ‘You get me through the first game, and I feel good that I can help you get through the second.’ And they’ve had that mentality.”

Williams, meanwhile, is 21-11 in the second game of a weekend set at the NCAA tournament - a record that includes five second-round exits between 1990 and 2000 that generated plenty of criticism of the former Kansas coach, who is in his fifth Final Four in the last eight seasons.

However, one of Williams’ victories was a 2007 second-round defeat of Michigan State. Izzo’s other second-game loss was in the 2003 regional finals against Texas.

Ginyard enjoying view

As North Carolina regulars Bobby Frasor, Danny Green and Tyler Hansbrough seek to finish off their careers with a title, another guy who entered school with them has the best seat in the house.

Alexandria native Marcus Ginyard is redshirting this season with a stress fracture in his left foot, but he is hardly upset at how things have unfolded for the Tar Heels this season.

“I’ve loved every bit of it, just watching my team play so great and do so well,” Ginyard said.

Ginyard was a part-time starter his first two seasons, then the Tar Heels’ primary small forward a year ago. But he only got into three games this season, the last on Jan. 4.

A spot on the bench as probably the best-dressed cheerleader in the building, though, has suited him fine so long as the Tar Heels kept winning.

“Last week everybody was saying it must be bittersweet for me, but I thought it was all sweet,” Ginyard said. “This is great.”

A friendly wager?

Former Spartans star Magic Johnson, who led Michigan State to the 1979 title, has followed this year’s team throughout its postseason run.

Meanwhile, North Carolina was merely the college home of Michael Jordan.

Given that the Tar Heels have won all four NCAA tournament meetings between the two schools (1957, 1998, 2005 and 2007), it certainly would be curious to hear a hypothetical conversation between the two legends.

“I get a chance to work Michael Jordan’s fantasy camp every year, and I’m sure him and Magic will be having not a bet, but I think they’ll be having a gentlemen’s agreement on this,” Izzo said.


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