Last night North Carolina beat Michigan State for the third time inside 12 months. Last night’s margin was 7 points, but Carolina led by 16 at half and it was double digits for most of the game.
However, as we’ll see, North Carolina’s win mostly came down to luck. First, the four factors:
As we can see, North Carolina’s edge came in two areas: a huge edge in FT rate and a huge edge in eFG. However, Carolina forced Michigan State to turn it over roughly 15% of the time, less than their 19% rate thus far into the season. Carolina, meanwhile, turned it over at right around their season mark of 22.7% (which is good for 141st nationally). The offensive rebounding edge by the Spartans should be a huge concern for Tar Heel fans. Granted, Michigan State has a reputation of being a very good rebounding team, but North Carolina definitely had the edge inside last night (well, supposedly). Michigan State attempted 20 threes last night (and missed 18 of them). This large amount of three pointers usually lends to a low offensive rebounding percentage. But the Spartans still out rebounded North Carolina.
Lastly, Michigan State has made 32% of their threes this year, and made 35% of their threes last year. If they hit on either of those percentages, they win going away. This was not good defense by North Carolina, it was bad offense (or rather bad shooting) by Michigan State, as you can see by Michigan State shooting 78% from two, 15% above their season percentage so far.
Michigan State is probably going to collapse in the rankings due to this loss, and Carolina could be as high as a top 5 team. But it could be argued that Michigan State outplayed the Heels, and it should be argued that the Spartans will end the year the better team.