Rushed Reactions: #1 North Carolina 83, #10 Syracuse 66

Posted by nvr1983 on April 2nd, 2016

RTC is providing wall-to-wall coverage of the NCAA Tournament again this season. Make sure to follow us @rushthecourt throughout Final Four weekend. 

Three Key Takeaways.

Brice Johnson and UNC are where we expected them to be

Brice Johnson and UNC are where we expected them to be

  1. After having issues earlier this year North Carolina is where they were expected to be. This hasn’t been the smoothest ride for the Tar Heels, who started the year at #1 in the polls before dropping out of the Top 10 following two early road losses. Despite that they have managed to put the pieces together to develop into the juggernaut we thought they could be. Since February 6, they have only lost two games (a ridiculous one-point home loss to Duke where they stopped going to a dominant Brice Johnson and a five-point road loss to a Virginia team that ended up earring a #1 seed itself). They still have their issues (like their inability to hit 3s reliably), but they find themselves exactly where we expected them to be when the season started: playing for the national title on the first Monday in April.
  2. Syracuse couldn’t make its magic happen one more time. Lost in all of Boeheim’s vitriol has been what an improbable run this has been for the Orange. Sure, they got a huge boost when Middle Tennessee State beat Michigan State (ok, they got a huge hand even before that when they were allowed in the NCAA Tournament with a questionable resume), but they played out of their mind in the last two rounds coming up with huge rallies to stun both Gonzaga and Virginia to get to the Final Four. They weren’t one of the four best teams in the country this season, but that shouldn’t diminish the magical run they had getting to Houston.
  3. Monday night will be a contrast in styles. By now it should be pretty obvious what UNC’s strength is (interior play) and what Villanova’s strength is (perimeter play). We will have more on this between now and Monday night, but it will be fascinating to see the contrast with Villanova essentially having nothing inside beyond Daniel Ochefu and North Carolina being inconsistent from the perimeter to put it mildly.

Star of the Game. Joel Berry II. He often goes overlooked with Brice Johnson’s spectacular interior play and Marcus Paige’s experience, but Berry was phenomenal tonight with 8 points, 7 rebounds, and 10 assists with only 1 turnover. 


  • “To beat them we would have had to play perfect” – Trevor Cooney
  • “Don’t ask me that stupid question” – Roy Williams preempting any questions about retiring after hearing a reporter ask him Boeheim that question
  • “I’m a helluva lot smarter about basketball than you guys are” – Williams

Roy Williams was fired up tonight

Sights & Sounds.

  • The Syracuse student section was abysmal. We understand the cost of making the trip as a student from northern New York down to Houston, but we would think that the school could organize something to make it more reasonable. Syracuse has a proud basketball tradition, but even the best programs don’t make the Final Four that often and when your school does it you shouldn’t expect them to make it back especially while you are still in school.
  • Realistically it seemed like this game was never in doubt, but there was about a minute midway through the second half where Syracuse cut the UNC lead to single digits. With the miracles Syracuse has been able to produce in the last two games it briefly seemed possible that they could make this a game. North Carolina quickly put an end to those ideas and our Monday night match-up was set.

What’s Next? A match-up of contrasting styles with Villanova’s reliance on outside shooting and North Carolina’s bruising inside game. If North Carolina is smart, which it isn’t always, they won’t try to trade threes with Villanova, but will instead pound them inside and try to get Ochefu (Villanova’s only legit inside presence) in foul trouble. For Roy Williams, it will be a chance for a third title and to put himself into the discussion among the greatest college basketball coaches of all-time. Everybody acknowledges Roy’s success, but there is a general feeling that he isn’t among the best tacticians in the game. A win on Monday night would put him in a group of only 5 other coaches with at least three titles (the others are Wooden, Krzyzewski, Rupp, and Calhoun). Roy is respected, but has never been mentioned in with that group historically. After Monday night he could be.

nvr1983 (1398 Posts)

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