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Champions Bracket: 2000 Michigan State vs. 2002 Maryland

tournament

6) 2000 – Michigan State Spartans (32-7)
F – Morris Peterson, Sr (16.8p, 6.0r, 1.3a)
PG – Mateen Cleaves, Sr (12.1p, 1.8r, 6.9a)
G – Charlie Bell, Jr (11.5p, 4.9r, 3.2a)
F – Andre Hutson, Jr (10.2p, 6.2r, 1.5a)
F – A.J. Granger, Sr (9.5p, 5.3r, 1.2a)
F – Mike Chappell, Jr (5.9p, 2.2r, 0.6a)
F – Jason Richardson, Fr (5.1p, 4.1r, 0.6a)
11) 2002 – Maryland Terrapins (32-4)
G – Juan Dixon, Sr (20.4p, 4.6r, 2.9a)
F – Lonny Baxter, Sr (15.2p, 8.2r, 0.8a)
C – Chris Wilcox, So (12.0p, 7.1r, 1.5a)
G – Byron Mouton, Sr (11.1p, 5.0r, 2.1a)
PG – Steve Blake, Jr (8.0p, 3.8r, 7.9a)
G – Drew Nicholas, Jr (7.1p, 2.3r, 2.4a)
C – Tajh Holden, Jr (5.6p, 2.7r, 1.2a)

It’s crazy how similar the two team’s situations were. Both Michigan State and Maryland went into the NCAA tournament as top seeds and both had to take the toughest roads possible to cut down the nets.

After beating the No. 16 seed in their opening games both teams ha to beat a No. 8, No. 4 and No. 2 seed to advance to the final four. Once they got there Michigan State had to beat a surprise but talented No. 8 North Carolina and then topped a fifth seeded Florida in the Championship game. Maryland had to beat No. 1 seeded Kansas in the Final Four and then a No. 5 seed Indiana in the Championship game.

Of all the championship teams in this tournament Michigan State’s 2000 squad it probably the easiest to get. Granted, the are the second oldest eligible team but also because they just weren’t a very exciting squad. Tom Izzo led a squad that didn’t necessarily feature elite talent or play with a lot of flair to the finals on good fundamentals and great team play.

Jason Richardson went on to have the best NBA career and is still in the league but was only a freshman coming off the bench. Of all the key players for the squad it was Morris Peterson, who played 11 season mostly as a reserve, who turned out to be the best pro.

Juan Dixon - Maryland

Juan Dixon – Maryland

Now there wasn’t great NBA talent on Maryland either. Steve Blake has been a very reliable and unselfish point guard for years in the league and Chris Wilcox played 11 seasons in the league but neither were superstars. Juan Dixon was a low-level NBA player for seven seasons before flaming out.

But the two would create one heck of a game.

Maryland was one of the most exciting teams in college basketball that year led by a very dynamic college shooting guard in Dixon. He could score from anywhere and Steve Blake’s willingness to give up his own stats for the good of the team was just remarkable.

And Michigan State was one of the toughest team’s around. They were big, they were strong, they were tough and could control any game played. Morris Peterson dominated inside and Mateen Cleaves opened him up with his outside shooting.

It’s power vs. finesse in this one but don’t for one second think either team isn’t capable of the other. Cleeves was so good in the tournament, draining three’s and slashing inside, that he was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding PLayer (Dixon was MOP in 2002) and Maryland has a very strong, game-changer inside with Chris Wilcox. He was only a sophomore but he could dominate inside.

It’s a shame this game would have to happen in the first round of the tournament because it would be a beauty. Maryland was led by a very good backcourt but had great interior balance. They scored in many different ways, really defended and never took a play off. Every single second of the game was a clinic put on by the Terps.

The impressive thing about the Spartans was that they missed Cleaves for 13 games at the start of the season and he rolled his ankle and missed a fair amount of time in the second half of the championship game. But they still dominated all year.

But when these games happen you tend to just go with the best backcourt. Dixon was incredible and dominated not only the tournament but the entire season. Blake was the perfect point guard, Lonny Baxter and Byron Mouton were incredibly slashers and could crash the boards. Wilcox was just a powerful center who would match up well with Peterson inside.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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