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|Photos: Ford (Getty), Worthy (US Presswire), Jordan (AP)|
|Eric Neel predicts ...|
I'm at a party the other night and my buddy James, a tried and blue Tar Heel, comes up to me (he's been reading a little Page 2, it seems) and says, "I just don't see how Carolina can lose to UCLA." We're in the kitchen and he's between me and a piece of chocolate mousse delight, so I humor him: "Yeah, they present problems." He's talking about foot speed and shooting range, about McAdoo taking the game out beyond Walton's comfort zone, about a roster full of players who can create their own shot. "And all that," he says, "is before we get to the fact that their two-guard is the greatest player in NBA history."
I'm starting to hear, starting to believe, some of what he says. We mill about the party, James and I, each of us tracking our preschool-age children and moving in and out of conversations about politics and film and such, things far less pressing than pie and Carolina. "I think people tend to forget how good Billy Cunningham was," he says. "And which of UCLA's soft small forwards has a chance of even slowing James Worthy?" And maybe it's just the effect of the key lime pie, but I have to admit I'm with him, actually. With Walton's ankles and knees, with Alcindor's defensive tendency to stay tied to the key, with really no other strong defensive options on the UCLA squad, the Heels just might be the pick.
So I reach for a thin wedge of pecan, just a taste, really, and I tell him so: "I have to admit I was UCLA all the way, but you've turned me around, James." He's smiling now. Satisfied. Ready to take a triumphant bite of dutch apple. And then I hit him with it: "Only here's the problem: LSU's going to eat them alive before they ever get that far."
Final score: LSU 92, North Carolina 81
|F||Hot Plate Williams||6-8||85-86||15.8|
|Photos: Pettit (AP), Maravich (AP), O'Neal (Getty)|
|Scoop Jackson predicts ...|
After taping "Classic Now," I began to think. Plato think. Ever since this tournament started, I've been riding the LSU Hummer, drinking the Press Maravich and Dale Brown water. I've looked up and down this squad and said (especially knowing how good John Williams actually was when he came out of LA to BR): this is possibly the greatest lineup ever. How can they lose? Then as the tourney went on, I began to look into how deep other teams were. Houston, in particular. I played out games in my mind, realizing that as strong as this LSU squad was, other teams could actually beat them.
Now, it's Carolina's turn. Billed as the "Game of The Millennium" (behind the '68 Houston-UCLA game), the Tar Heels and the Tigers had more than 20,000 packed into the 16,300 seats that is Allen Fieldhouse's capacity. Ear-numbing loudness, borderline hysteria. Mendy Rudolph makes Shaq and McAdoo shake hands, then he tosses up the ball, and history begins to be made...
I'll leave it at this: With three seconds left, Michael Jordan drains a 20-foot jumper to send the game into overtime. From there, 15 minutes of basketball are still left to play. Imagine the unimaginable.
Final score: LSU 119, UNC 118 (3 OT)