Sorry, but if we're playing the Final Four in Detroit, the auto industry metaphors are going to fly.
There was no Big East bailout for UConn or Villanova when their offenses broke down in the second half last night. For almost 15 minutes, it seemed the Huskies couldn't make a shot while Michigan State was putting them away before the turbocharged roar of the hometown crowd at Ford Field. The Wildcats, meanwhile, couldn't get out of their own way when they had a chance to beat a North Carolina team whose own offense fell out of gear after the game's first 15 minutes.
You can argue that the first game was decided at halftime. What, Sparty ahead by two despite getting a big fat zero out of Goran Suton? Well, Raymar Morgan, who is an iffy proposition from game to game, decided to show up, the tune of 18 points and nine rebounds. And Korie Lucious did more with nine minutes of court time (11 points) than Judi Dench with nine minutes of Oscar-winning screen time in "Shakespeare in Love." And then Kalin Lucas and Travis Walton sparked the three straight fastbreak baskets that put State ahead for good.
UConn, meanwhile, couldn't repeat the West Regional-to-national title runs of '99 and '04. Hasheem Thabeet was merely good, not All-American. Kemba Walker was a freshman, not the supersub of last week. And A.J. Price...5-for-20? Laptops weren't the only thing missing in his world last night.
The Heels, meanwhile, look pretty mortal after starting out as if they'd run up 120 points. Tyler Hansbrough picked the right night to bring his offensive game back, and Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington did not look stoppable in the first 15 minutes. From then on, though, they were B-minus at best, and needed defense, a couple of spurts and 'Nova's offensive ineptitude to keep their second date with Michigan State tomorrow night.
It wasn't just that the Wildcats were 5-for-27 from behind the arc. They shot in the lane like French Quarter drunks at midnight on Fat Tuesday - ghastly clangers, 10-foot leaning air balls, you name it. They wasted some hard work on the boards, and just looked tired when they had the ball.
If I'm a member of Spartan Nation, I'm feeling pretty good about my chances tomorrow night. North Carolina looked eminently beatable, not the same bunch that rolled MSU 98-63 in December. And unlike that night, Suton will be out there taking the opening tip at 9:21 p.m.
Plus last year, I kept picking against Kansas. As Molly Ivins used to say, you need to do three things: Look at the record. Look at the record. Look at the record.
While I have nothing but admiration for the way Tom Izzo's boys swindled their way into another championship game, the Heels knew they got away with one last night. They'll bring something better tomorrow night. And the bench will bring more than five points this time.
I picked UNC to win it all three weeks ago. Like the good husband I am, I stand by my choice, for better or for worse.
NORTH CAROLINA 83, MICHIGAN STATE 78.