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First German NCAA game features top teams
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On November 9, 2012 @ 10:00 am In All,Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Joe Rexrode, USA TODAY Sports
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — When Michigan State and Connecticut meet, it means one of them will end up playing for the national title. That’s been the case in four previous encounters, anyway.
MSU lost at UConn during the 1998-99 season, both made the Final Four and the Huskies won it all. UConn lost at MSU the next season and the Spartans went on to win the national title. They met in the 2009 Final Four in Detroit, with MSU prevailing and going on to lose to North Carolina in the championship game.
And early in the 2010-11 season, an unranked UConn squad led by Kemba Walker upset No. 2 MSU at the Maui Invitational – setting the stage for a national championship run for the Huskies and a season full of disappointment for the Spartans.
“It seems like this game always means something,” MSU senior center Derrick Nix said.
Friday night they’ll break the 2-2 tie in a converted airplane hangar on Ramstein Air Base in Germany, playing in front of about 3,000 U.S. troops in the first American college basketball game in Europe. For the first time in five meetings, both teams are somewhat overlooked nationally. MSU is ranked No. 14 but picked just fourth in the Big Ten, while Connecticut is unranked and picked as low as ninth in the Big East.
Both appear to have the potential to exceed those expectations, though. MSU needs consistent shooting, revamped leadership without Draymond Green and some role players to emerge.
The Huskies need big men to emerge. They lost guard Jeremy Lamb and center Andre Drummond to the NBA, and power forward Alex Oriakhi to Missouri, from a team that went 20-14 overall, 8-10 in the Big East and one-and-done in the NCAA Tournament.
But speedy guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright are back and joined by the next major New York recruit at UConn – 6-5 freshman guard Omar Calhoun.
“He’s shooting the daylights out of the ball,” MSU coach Tom Izzo said of Calhoun, who scored 44 points, hitting 8 of 12 from 3-point range, in two exhibition games.
“Their two little guards … [For more on First college game in Germany features top programs, click here.]
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