EAST LANSING — Fans chanted Izzone cheers, trying to keep spirits high as the sound of the ball being dribbled reverberated throughout Breslin Center.
But their eyes were all staring intently at a video feed high above the basketball court. The game was played in Detroit at Ford Field, but for about 9,000 diehard fans, the game was welcome courtside at home in East Lansing.
The thousands of fans were lined up for about an hour and a half before doors opened at 8:15 p.m. The University of North Carolina and Michigan State men’s basketball teams battled for the national title on Monday night, and the Tar Heels throttled the Spartans 89-72 to claim the 2009 NCAA national championship.
“(Coach Tom) Izzo did a great job coaching the players,” said MSU student John Sowasky. “I wanted to see it all come to a pinnacle and I wanted us to get that trophy, but apparently you know when you turn the ball over 20 times that doesn’t really happen.”
Though the Spartans lost, MSU students did not let that stop them from gathering for a party at Cedar Village. The apartment complex was packed with about 1,700 students sliding through mud and throwing each other around in a mosh-pit fashion while cheering for MSU.
According to the East Lansing Police Department, about 21 people were arrested and 12 fires were started on Monday night, but the subdued crowd did not reach the riot level that many had feared.