Why North Carolina Will Win…

Posted by rtmsf on April 3rd, 2009

As part of our ongoing attempt to bring you the best college basketball coverage anywhere, we enlisted the editors from the finest blogs we could find to write posts explaining why their team will win tomorrow.

This submission is from our friends at Carolina March.

Three Reasons Why UNC Will Be Cutting Down the Nets

Experience. UNC starts three seniors and two juniors, all who made the Final Four a year ago and the Elite Eight a year before that. Only Connecticut has that level of seniority, and this is their first trip to the final weekend.  This isn’t even this team’s first trip to Ford Field; they rather handily disposed of a Michigan State team by 35 points back in November. I wonder what became of that Michigan State team?

Scoring. You can’t win games solely by scoring a lot of points, but it helps.  And UNC certainly can do that well. They’re the top team in offensive efficiency for the season, third highest team in conference-only offensive efficiency, and if you don’t care how efficient they are, they’ve quite simply scored more points this season than any other team in college basketball.

Speed. No major conference team in the country runs at a faster tempo than the Heels – Missouri was getting a full three possessions less per game.  If you don’t get back on defense immediately, you’ve given up two points.  If you don’t get your offensive rebounds – and you won’t – it’s two points. Turn it over? Two points. And this wears on you as the game goes on. Unless UNC’s opponent is particularly deep or in shape, they inevitably fade at the eight minute mark, like LSU did in the round of thirty-two.  Carolina has the bench depth to keep throwing bodies at you during the game, and they will to use it. Hell, Justin Watts got playing time in the the first half of the Oklahoma game, and there are members of his own family who don’t know who he is. Villanova’s the only team with the bench depth to match Carolina, although the talent is a bit shallower. If the Heels play at their preferred pace, look for their opponents to be sucking wind by the end of the game.

How They’ll Lose

Poor shooting from behind the arc. Carolina fans have bad memories of the three Final Fours in years ended by uncharacteristically poor shooting by players not used to the cavernous football stadiums where the finals take place. Even the 2005 team was based around only taking the three-pointer when necessary and relying on the rebounding prowess of Sean May and Marvin Williams. This year’s team can also win without the three, but it’s more difficult, and all of the Heels’ four losses have been marked by poor three-point shooting. There are three perimeter players to shut down, not to mention Bobby Frasor on the wings to remind you he used to start, but if you don’t reduce Carolina’s play to one-dimensional interior work, you don’t have a chance of stopping the fast-running Heels.

How They’ll Beat…

Villanova. Villanova is a quick, undersized team with fast guards that pressure every entry pass and prefer to force poor threes. In other words, they’re a quicker, deeper version of Duke, and UNC has dispatched the Blue Devils twice now. Carolina has too many perimeter weapons to be fully stifled by Villanova

Connecticut. The Huskies present the greatest difficulty for the Heels among the remaining teams. They’re built in the mold of the four teams that have beaten Carolina this season, teams led by a strong, slashing guard backed up by a large front line to give UNC rebounding trouble and bodies to throw at Tyler Hansbrough. Even with that advantage, the teams that put Ws next to UNC on their schedules had uncharacteristically hot shooting nights from at least one other guard and poor shooting from each of UNC’s perimeter players. It takes a team firing on all cylinders to beat the Heels, and I can’t see Connecticut overcoming the distractions of both the tournament and their own devising to put together that kind of game. Look for UNC to get their good shooting night and have at least one of the trio of big men (Hansbrough, Thompson, and Davis) to have a big
night against Connecticut’s front duo.

Michigan State. By 35. (cf. ACC-Big Ten Challenge)

rtmsf (3738 Posts)


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