Coronado Patch Editor Jennifer Vigil was onboard the Vinson and provided glimpses into the action:
3 p.m. “Ladies and gentleman not the flight deck, please take your seats at this time.” One hour away.
3:02 Capt. Bruce Lindsey urged people to take seats. “Time to get this basketball game going.”
3:34: The crowd stood for the band, then: “Ladies and gentlemen, these are rehearsals. You can feel free to take your seats.” Duped! No, the president isn’t aboard yet.
3:45 p.m. Magic Johnson strolls on court. The Michigan State alum is serving as honorary captain. Former Laker teammate James Worthy is playing the same role for North Carolina and appears at his side.
3:49: Tar Heel fans among the sailors erupt in cheers for the cameras.
3:53 p.m.: Chula Vista native Mario Lopez, from Extra, interviews Magic.
4:02: ESPN commentator Dick Vitale said he “can’t thank them enough,” of men and women of the military. Hoots and hollers ensue.
4:03: Spartans take floor, followed by Tar Heels.
4:07: President and first lady take the floor.
4:10: Motown recording artist B. Taylor sings national anthem; then President Obama takes the mic, to praise military personnel, a task he called “one of the greatest privileges of this job.” Mentions legislation for jobs for vets (Note: It’s election season), but then cites the Vinson’s role in taking down Osama bin Laden, to the delight of the crowd.
4:31: Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus presents game ball, joined by Johnson, a five-time NBA champ and three-time MVP, and Worthy, a seven-time All Star and three-time champ, on the court.
4:32: “I'm going to be blocking somebody's view here. Who has tenure?” Worthy asked reporters as he took his seat behind the North Carolina bench.
4:35: Tar Heels introduced, then Spartans. By the way, no names on jerseys: Just U.S.A.
4:39: Tip off. Ball to North Carolina.
4:39: First basket: North Carolina, by John Henson.
4:41: First basket for Michigan State: Branden Dawson, making it 6-2.
4:48: Game pauses for lowering of the colors, as crew takes down the USS Carl Vinson’s flag.
4:56: First lady looks more into it than her husband, known to be a big basketball fan. The president, by the way, is working the gum big time.
5:04: Competing chants of “Go, green!” (Michigan State) and “Go, blue!” (North Carolina).
5:05: North Carolina coach Roy Williams reportedly is battling a bout of vertigo. But with his team trailing, 17-12, he’s mad right now, yelling at a ref.
5:08: Dawson of Michigan State down, clutching knee. But walks off under own power.
5:10: It's not raining. Weather has not been a factor. It's cloudy, but not threatening.
5:16: Henson dunks. Impressive. Sorta reminiscent of another big North Carolina guy.
5:30: End of half, North Carolina leads 36-25.
5:49: Secretary of Navy Ray Mabus snags some face time with Magic Johnson, who charms a little girl with him, calling her princess and complimenting her pretty eyes.
5:54: 2nd half. Dawson’s back out. Knee OK.
5:56: Obama may have just checked the presidential Blackberry. Michelle is cold now. Has donned black coat. She’s right. There’s a chill, but thankfully dry.
6:00: ESPN snags courtside Obama interview.
6:04: By the way, those officials who are vets? They are Mike Reed, Tony Greene and James Breeding.
6:05: Worthy asks UNC staff for gum. Yes, indeed, he is close to the media.
6:12: Some sailors start a wave. Game is sliding away from Michigan State, down 56-37.
6:13: Attendance, 8,111. Guess they found more room.
6:14: Reference from Twitter: @Jake Tapper says UNC is putting Michigan State into a weighted bag and sliding them off the ship. (We respond: They don’t deserve it, unlike Osama bin Laden.)
6:28: Dunk by Draymond Green, making it 59-49; signs of life from Michigan State. Just under 6 minutes to play.
6:31: Chants of “let's go, Tar Heels,” pretty well overwhelm any for the Spartans.
6:35: Pamela Anderson in the house. Described as an actress on big screen. Ohhhh-kay.
6:40: See commercial for “Act of Valor” film? They provided seat cushions for the crowd too. Those temporary seats are not comfy.
6:43: 1 more minute. 64-53, North Carolina.
6:44: Ending with a flourish, despite being down, Spartan Adreian Payne takes it to the hoop.
6:45: With 20 seconds left, crowd rises to its feet.
6:46: Buzzer: North Carolina, 67, Michigan State, 55, so top-ranked team prevails.
6:48: President Obama begins his departure, shaking hands along the way.
6:49: Players hand off their game jerseys to servicemen and women.
6:53: From Michigan State coach Tom Izzo: “It's gonna be a hell of a memory maker for all of us.”
6:54: From North Carolina coach Roy Williams: “We love you, we love you everyday for what you do. Thank you for making this a great night for all of us.”
6:56: Sound check begins; first lights start to go out on the court.
7:00: A teeny bit of rain, bless it, but after the game.
7:03: Post-game concert begins with Five for Fighting (vocalist John Ondrasik is wearing a Marine Corps T-shirt); country act Billy Currington to follow. Everyone's welcome on the court for the show.