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Michigan State’s past and present at the Final Four

DETROIT – Michigan State’s 90-mile bus ride to its Final Four hotel puts the wheels in motion for the spotlight team heading into college basketball’s signature event in the Motor City.

Hundreds of fans flocked the Breslin Center in East Lansing as the team pulled away and a string of supporters lined the streets en route to the expressway. More fans were waiting in the Detroit suburb of Troy when the Spartans arrived at their home away from home.

The story line might get even sweeter for the Spartans if they can upset top-seeded Connecticut because their famed mentor, Magic Johnson, is going to deliver the game ball for the title game with Larry Bird 30 years after they met in a transcendent event.

“It almost seems like a divine order that Michigan State is playing in Detroit,” former Spartans star Greg Kelser said Wednesday. “If Michigan State wins it all, my God, I don’t know if it could get any more surreal than that.”

It didn’t – and hasn’t – gotten any bigger in the NCAA Tournament than it was in Salt Lake City on March 26, 1979, when Johnson and Kelser led Michigan State to a win over the Bird-led Indiana State Sycamores .

“The TV rating of 24.1 hasn’t been passed in college or pro basketball since and it’ll always be No. 1 because there were four channels then and 804 now,” said CBS TV analyst and Sports Illustrated writer Seth Davis, whose book, “When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball,” was released last month.

“The 1979 game would have been a big deal 10 years later, but the lasting impact its had comes down to timing.

“It was played six months before the launch of ESPN. Magic and Bird went on to play for championships against each other in the NBA, which was at a low. The NCAA Tournament expanded twice more over the next five years and hasn’t expanded since.”

In part because Michigan State fans are expected to fill any seats that would have potentially been empty, the NCAA expects Monday’s championship crowd to break the attendance record of 63,959 set in 1987 when Keith Smart’s jumper lifted Indiana to a title over Syracuse at the Superdome in New Orleans.

Texas’ Pittman will stay

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas forward Dexter Pittman says he’s staying in school and will not make himself eligible for the NBA draft.

Pittman, who is 6 feet 10 and about 300 pounds, averaged 10.1 points and 5.5 rebounds last season as a junior.

Those numbers jumped to 15.4 points and 10.4 rebounds in five games in the Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments, raising questions about whether he would leave the Longhorns to turn pro.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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