Sunday's NCAA Mideast Regional Championship game between Notre Dame and Michigan State "is bigger," said State's Earvin (Magic) Johnson, "than I can really say.

"It so big, I can't explain it."

What can be explained about the 3:14 p.m. game (WRC-TV-4) between third-ranked MSU and the fourth-ranked Irish is that the winner will proceed to the national semifinals and play the East champion in Salt Lake City Saturday.

Everything else about this matchup of two teams, each of which was ranked No. 1 at different points of the season, is the stuff of dreams.

"Magic" dreams.

"I had a dream last night about the Notre Dame game," the irrepressible Johnson said today. "It went pretty rough for a minute there.

"I just rolled over and went, 'Oooohhhh.' It was some physical game. This game is going to be something. When I woke up it was 2-2 and 15 fouls had been called.

"It was an all-right dream, though. All the fouls were in our favor. We got their big men in trouble."

In downtown Indianapolis, the Notre Dame band is marching through the streets, Michigan State fans are yelling "Green - White!" across the lobby of the elegant Hyatt Regency at 2 a.m. and there is a general feeling that this get-together of the exquisite Green Teams is something of a mini national championship.

Notre Dame has long bragged of having the best 10 players on any roster this year while MSU Coach Jud Heathcote looks at this as two superstars (Johnson and leading scorer Greg Kelser) and a supporting cast."

"They (Notre Dame) come at you with nine players," said Heathcote, "and we come right back at you with two.

"Earvin has dreams. I have nightmares."

Both sides are talking about an expected physical battle, even though MUS has compiled its 23-6 marx primarily with Johnson's and Kelser's quickness and a two-three matchup zone defense. MSU can go only six deep on its roster and a brutal game with an abundance or fouls could kill the Spartans.

"I think I'm going to the sporting goods store and get some helmets and shoulder pads," said Heathcote.

Notre Dame's Kelly Tripucka said, "it will be a war."

Michigan State is physical in clearing the boards, but Johnson said that injured center Jay Vincent, who may not play, "is the bulk of our team. Notre Dame (24-5) will have size on us, so we'll just have to play around it some kind of way.

"They just go after the ball and if you're in the way, well... that's too bad. I can relate to that. I was surprised to hear them say that we could ram and bam with them."

Despite Notre Dame's superior depth, MSU is a one-point favorite, based on quickness and the difficulty involved in stopping Johnson and Kelser.