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Published: Monday, 4/6/2009

Players take notice of President's prognostication

BY DONALD EMMONS
AND MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITERS

DETROIT - North Carolina has long been considered the favorite to win the national championship.

Even President Barack Obama picked North Carolina to win the title on his NCAA bracket.

The President's choice may be one of several motivating factors in tonight's game for Michigan State, which is attempting to knock off a third No. 1 seed.

Michigan State senior guard and Lima native Travis Walton said the President's pick didn't come as a surprise.

"North Carolina is a good team, and I can understand why they were picked," Walton said. "If I were [Obama] I would have probably picked North Carolina too."

North Carolina guard Ty Lawson said Obama's choice of the Tar Heels has been talked about among his teammates.

"When we first heard President Obama had picked us to win the title, it was kind of exciting," Lawson said. "I think we're a good team. We just can't let all the predictions for us go to our heads."

FLOOR CONCERNS: Ford Field, the NFL football facility being utilized as a basketball arena, has drawn some criticism.

The basketball court sits on a platform or stage intended to allow the crowd to get a better view.

North Carolina coach Roy Williams is not a fan of the floor for safety reasons and because it's unfamiliar.

"I don't like the safety," Williams said. "When we played Michigan State here before, we had a guy go off the court, one of Michigan State's players, I don't know if it was Raymar [Morgan] or who, but that scared me. I almost fell off the stupid court. That scared me."

FILM AT 11: Michigan State's preparation has been lauded throughout the NCAA tournament.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and his players credited their staff of team managers with providing a storehouse of knowledge.

"We have 10 managers and we filmed over 1,800 games [this season], so the night of the NCAA tournament we'd have something on everybody," Izzo said.

"Our managers - guys that make nothing - they're filming games till two or three in the morning. They had it all laid out. We've got eight films on this, and if you get through this round, you've got this. There's so many guys that do so much work, and I get the credit from it."



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