Quicken Loans Carrier Classic Final Thoughts

Well, it most certainly has been an exciting couple months when it comes to the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic.  With all of the hype and hoopla surrounding it, it was almost hard to believe that this day was ever going to come.

It has, and here we are.

It only seems fitting that my fellow basketball nut Jonathon Slappey and I come out with what we think is going to happen in the game tonight.  After all, together we have fired out article after article about the lead up to the game, why wouldn’t we throw our two cents in about who we thought would win this bad boy?

So, here we go

Eric’s Prediction: UNC 88 – MSU 65

I’m going to be ostracized by Sparty Nation – I know it.  I’m a proud Michigan State graduate, but I just don’t see this young, transitioning Spartan team being able to top a stacked UNC squad.

UNC is led by Harrison Barnes whom many feel could have been the number one overall pick in the NBA Draft, had he decided to leave after his freshman year.  He’s set to have an even more impressive year than last year.  Words cannot explain how important experience is for a young basketball player, and the loss to Kentucky in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament last year was a great learning experience.

And there’s the minor detail that they’re the top-ranked team in the nation going into this game.  Just a small detail though.

Michigan State is in a position that they’re not used to be being in – not being ranked super high in the preseason polls.  They’re perennially a threat to make it to the Final Four, but this year is different.  Six players on this team have never played a minute of a game together.  Draymond Green aside, they just don’t have the star-studded lineup that is traditional for a Spartan team.

Expect Draymond Green to do the Draymond thing:  be a leader, grab 9 or 10 rebounds, maybe put up 17 points.

Also expect Adrian Payne and Keith Appling to have strong starts to their sophomore years.

By Head Coach Tom Izzo’s own admission, this is going to be a fun team to watch this year.  I don’t doubt that in the slightest – who am I to question one of the greatest coaches on the sidelines?

However, I don’t know how well they’ll fare tonight when they take on a loaded UNC team.  Tar Heels win.

Jon’s Prediction: UNC 81 – MSU 70

The 2011 Quicken Loans Carrier Classic is finally here!  All that’s left to do to kick off this Veterans Day celebration is a final checklist of my pregame snacks and accessories:

· Basketball – to hold, shoot air shots, and mimic Harrison Barnes on the court.

·  Handless beer helmet – so I can hold my basketball and TV remote, and drink beer at the same time.

· iPad – so I can check player stats and argue confidently with my cousin Theron.

· Air Jordan sneakers – although I’m not playing, I will dress like a champion today!

I predict that the coaches in the 2011 Quicken Loans Carrier Classic will be far less important than the players.  With the event being held on an aircraft carrier (the USS Carl Vinson) and the addition of natural sunlight and wind, there are so many unique attributes about the venue, I believe the game will come down to which players can focus the most.

While I like Draymond Green and his ability to lead the Spartans, I believe Harrison Barnes will show the world why NBA general managers have been salivating like Pavlov’s dogs at the opportunity to draft him at the end of this season. With three potential first found picks on the UNC Tar Heels, I predict the final score of the 2011 Quicken Loans Carrier Classic will be 81-70 in favor of the Tar Heels.

Clearly these are just the opinions of two zealous sports fans, so tune in to ESPN tonight at 7 pm ET to see what happens. Let the trash talking begin!

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