Friday, April 3, 2009

Round 5: North Carolina

Foe: #1 North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tar Heels (32-4)

Recent History
: North Carolina leads the all-time series 9-4, with four of those games having come in the NCAA Tournament. Villanova toppled UNC in the 1985 Elite Eight en route to a National Championship. The most recent meeting came in the 2005 Sweet Sixteen when Tom O'Neill made the "travel call that wasn't" against Allan Ray. That North Carolina team was absolutely loaded with NBA talent: Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants, Marvin Williams, and Sean May. On one hand I was happy that Nova played so well against that heavily favored team, the eventual National Champions. However, that travel call left me bitter for months afterwards, and I was constantly dreaming of what could have happened if A-Ray tied that game up with the and-1.

This year's Tar Heels squad is similar to 2005's. It is a dominant team full of talent and depth at every position. I mean at the start of the season, it wasn't inconceivable to think that this team could go undefeated. Obviously it didn't happen; they lost to BC, Wake Forest, Maryland, and Florida St. (all NCAA Tournament teams by the way). They are led by a starting five that all score in double figures. Ty Lawson might be the best point guard in the country: 16.3 ppg, 6.5 apg, 2 spg, 48.5% 3PT. Tyler Hansborough is the reigning National Player of the year: 20.9 ppg, 8.1 rpg. Wayne Ellington is one of the best shooters in the nation: 15.6 ppg, 39.7% 3PT. Danny Green is a versatile Dwayne Anderson-type: 13.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 41.5% 3PT. Deon Thompson (10.7 pts, 5.8 reb, 1.1 blk) would be the #1 big man on most teams in the country, but he stays under the radar playing second fiddle to Hansborough. On top of that, the Tar Heels have the best bench in the country, full of players that could start on any other team. 6'10 freshman Ed Davis (6.6 pts, 6.6 reb, 1.8 blk) might be the best NBA prospect of UNC's big men and he only plays 18.9 minutes off the bench. Booby Frasor (2.7 ppg) and Will Graves (4 ppg) are solid options off the bench. Finally, freshmen Tyler Zeller (3.5 ppg) and Larry Drew II (1.5 ppg) are two former McDonalds All-Americans that can barely even crack the rotation.

Famous Alumni: Basketball: Larry Brown, Vince Carter, Billy Cunningham, Hubert Davis, Brad Daugherty, Raymond Felton, Phil Ford, Rick Fox, Brendan Haywood, Antwan Jamison, Michael Jordan, George Karl, Mitch Kupchak, Sean May, Bob McAdoo, Rashad McCants, Sam Perkins, Kenny Smith, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, Donnie Walsh, Marvin Williams, James Worthy, Brandan Wright
Other: Peter Gammons, Lewis Black, Billy Crudup, Andy Griffith, Stuart Scott, John Edwards, Moonlight Graham, Mia Hamm, Chris Iannetta, Marion Jones, Davis Love III, Eddie Pope, Lawrence Taylor

Fun Facts:
  • UNC is the oldest public university in the United States.
  • The nickname "Tar Heels" is a reference to North Carolina's tar production during the 18th century.
  • Final Fours: UNC - 18, Nova - 4
  • NCAA Championships: UNC - 4, Nova - 1

Complimentary Youtube Video: Time for revenge...

Final Verdict: North Carolina is the favorite, but these two teams have arguably been the two most dominant in the Tournament so far. UNC likes to run and score; they average 90 points per game and give up just 72. Villanova doesn't have the depth to run with them, so they will need to try to slow the game down by containing Ty Lawson because he is the engine that makes them go. This same North Carolina team made the Final Four last year, so they are definitely not content just to be there. But I get the feeling our guys are looking for a little something more as well. Can Villanova beat the mighty Tar Heels? Yes, but it will take a near perfect game to pull the upset, and luckily Villanova has some experience in doing that.

TV: 8:47 PM on CBS and


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