Commentary

Will crowd lift Spartans to upset?

Updated: March 31, 2009, 3:53 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

The Michigan State fans will be rocking and rolling at Ford Field on Saturday. Will they be able to lift the Spartans to an upset of Connecticut in a national semifinal clash?

Coach Tom Izzo is a great motivator who can really inspire his players. He will use the in-state love provided by the Detroit crowd to fire up his squad. That was incentive during the regional semifinals and finals, and playing the Final Four just 90 miles from East Lansing is an advantage.

Michigan State has to control tempo in this game, and it must make perimeter shots to have a chance.

Goran Suton is coming off a super performance against Louisville and he could bring Hasheem Thabeet away from the basket by taking 15-17 foot jumpers. That could open the lane for the penetration ability of Kalin Lucas, the Big Ten Player of the Year.

Thabeet is a game-changer inside, forcing opponents to adjust their shots. He also does a great job blocking shots and keeping them in play, while teaming with Jeff Adrien to dominate on the glass.

In the last two games, unsung heroes have stepped up for Jim Calhoun's Huskies. In the regional semifinal win over Purdue, Craig Austrie came through big-time. Against Missouri, it was diaper dandy Kemba Walker who put up a career-high 23 points.

A.J. Price has been a man on a mission, getting to the Final Four the same way his dad, Tony did with Penn in 1979. Now A.J. wants to say, anything you can do, I can do better!

A key for Connecticut is to stay focused and not worry about the Michigan State crowd. Calhoun's team has been poised on the road this season. I think back to the outstanding performance at Louisville, with 20,000 fans screaming at Freedom Hall. The Huskies did a great job in transition and the defense did a number on Earl Clark and Samardo Samuels.

This Connecticut team is one of the most talented in the nation. Stanley Robinson has stepped up and his athleticism makes him a factor here as well.

My prediction is simple: The Huskies move on to the championship game Monday night.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.