Apparently UNC Should Not Even Play Friday Night

I really shouldn’t write this because it is just one guy’s opinion of what may happen and we all know he is entitled to it.  And by no means am I expecting everyone to have UNC in their Final Four but when I read a second article from a national outlet basically telling us the Heels will not survive the penultimate weekend of the NCAA Tournament I feel compelled to respond.  After all that is what makes blogging so great, the little voice calling the mainstream media out.  Today’s featured piece comes from Luke Winn at SI.com who informs us that not only will Georgetown win the East Regional but UNC is the most vulnerable team left of the four teams heading to East Rutherford.

Looking vulnerable: North Carolina
There are reasons to be optimistic about the Tar Heels, such as the fact that once Tyler Hansbrough de-Plexiglassed his face, he turned into an offensive beast, scoring 33 points against Michigan State. There are reasons to doubt UNC as well, such as the fact that it let a rather average Spartans team hang around for 30-plus minutes in Winston-Salem. I’m throwing Roy Williams’ boys into the vulnerable category, though, mainly because they’re running into an opponent, USC, that was quietly the most impressive team in the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. The Tar Heels have the nation’s most efficient offense, but the Trojans’ D suffocated a Texas attack that was ranked fifth nationally, and the film of Gabe Pruitt’s lockdown effort on speedy point guard D.J. Augustin could be giving normally care-free floor general Tywon Lawson nightmares.

Notice that his issue with UNC does not concern anything to do with the way UNC has played, outside of the fact the played tight with Michigan State.  And while we are on that let me just say that all I have heard all season was how much parity there is in college basketball and how the gap between the top and bottom of college basketball has closed.  If that is the case, how in the heck do you surmise UNC winning(and they did win) a tough game against MSU as being a sign of weakness?  I took the way UNC played that game as a sign of their maturity and toughness.  As a UNC fan I came away with greater confidence in their ability to handle the next opponent which is USC and someone Luke Winn thinks is capable shutting UNC down because they did it to Texas.  Let me clue Winn in one something: UNC is not Texas.  UNC has significant interior offensive weapons and UNC will also play much better defense than Texas did.  Is USC going to be tough? Absolutely, but Winn makes it sound like just because USC shutdown Texas then the same thing is going to happen despite the fact that UNC’s supporting case is a whole lot better than the one surrounding Kevin Durant.

Home cooking: Georgetown
Georgetown is seeded No. 2 but ranked No. 1 in proximity — East Rutherford is 227 miles from D.C. — and also has one of the more dedicated student sections in the country, so the Hoyas should have an advantage in fan support. North Carolina fans travel well, though, and a Tar Heels-Hoyas final could be played before a 30-percent powder blue, 30-percent gray, 40-percent curious-and-unaffiliated crowd. Those locals will be the crowd’s swing voters.

What Winn does not realize is the number of UNC fans found in the New York area is pretty decent.  In fact UNC was well represented at the NIT during the preseason and this should be no different.  And it is interesting Winn says that the Hoyas have one of the more dedicated student sections in the country because the school only has 12,000 students total.  The Continental Airlines Arena seats 20,000 total which means half the student population from Georgetown would have to make the 227 mile trip.  I think we can safely assume this is not going to be the case.  My point?  There is no home cooking for Georgetown based on fan support.  In fact Georgetown might enjoy some support for being the lower seed and a general air of the ABC mentality but aside from that this will be as neutral as a site can get.

The pick: Georgetown
Unlike the rest of their slow-down, Princetonian brethren, the Hoyas have the athletes to match up with Carolina and therefore won’t be helpless on defense in transition. The key factor here won’t be speed, but rather Georgetown’s work on the offensive glass. The last two times the Tar Heels lost, to Maryland (on Feb. 25) and Georgia Tech (on March 1), it was because they allowed the Terps to grab a disastrous 45.8 percent of available offensive rebounds and the Yellow Jackets to get 39.7 percent, according to kenpom.com. The Hoyas happen to be the best offensive rebounding team left in the tournament, averaging 40.4 percent on the season. If Green and Hibbert can out-tough Hansbrough and Brandan Wright in that department, it’s on to the Final Four.

I do not necessarily begrudge Winn for picking Georgetown.  I do not understand where all the love is coming from, but it is his opinion.  The interesting part of his logic is that he uses the losses to Maryland and Georgia Tech as signs that UNC could have difficulty in terms of offensive rebounds.  The issue you have there is you are referring to a pair of games UNC played on the road versus two teams fighting hard for NCAA Tournament life.  In other words if this were a court I would object based on relevance.  How UNC played at that stage is no more relevant than how Florida was playing during the same stretch when they got smacked by LSU(sans Glen Davis), Vanderbilt, and Tennessee.  As for the rebounding issue, how about using some more relevant statistics such as the fact UNC outrebounded Michigan State who happens to be ranked ninth in the nation in rebounding margin.  The other interesting part of citing kenpom is that Winn neglects to mention that UNC’s offensive rebounding percentage is at 39.5% on the offensive end only slightly lower than the 40.4% he boasts about for the Hoyas which essentially makes it a wash.  Also, Michigan State is right behind the Hoyas in this category at 40.2% for the season.  In the 2nd round game Michigan State only managed 22% of the rebounds while on the offensive end.  UNC  routinely surrenders 29.6% while on defense and when playing one of the better rebounding teams in the nation they actually improved on this stat.  It also should be noted Georgetown is 161th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage allowed by their defense.  In other words, if you are going to talk stats, tell the whole story and the whole story is UNC acquits itself quite well statistically in the rebounding category. Of course Winn ends the article by stating(conditionally) that it will come down to Georgetown out toughing Hansbrough and Wright.  Of course everyone knows UNC is soft and can be out toughed, it is just a matter of doing it right?

So, in one respect I do not think the guy is totally nuts.  USC is going to be  a difficult game much like playing Villanova was in 2005.  A Georgetown matchup is chalked full of all sorts of historical feeling from 1982 and will undoubtedly be a battle.  However I think declaring UNC to be vulnerable and carrying on as though they have little chance to overcome USC much less Georgetown is just a tad disingenuous.

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25 Responses to Apparently UNC Should Not Even Play Friday Night

  1. williamodouglas says:

    In 1982, there was no shot clock or three point shot, so 5 points was a bigger margin than it is now, but if you check the results of the 1982 Heels and their five wins in the NCAA tourney, you will see that all of them were pretty close, with the possible exception of the Villanova game., which I think was 70-60. The others were 52-50, 74-69, 68-63 and 63-62, off the top of my head, so I may be a point or two off on the win against Alabama. That team was named the greatest team of all time last year on ESPN, but unlike Georgetown that year, which wreaked havok in its region, the Heels were a bit more tested all the way.

    Win and move on is the name of the game. Will anyone ever forget just how nerve-wracking the Villanova game (we’ve had a few big ones with them–two wins and one loss) and the pundits said it would be easy without Curtis Sumpter playing. The Heels didn’t play particularly win, but you have to give the credit to Villanova–they were sensational. But the Heels bore down and gutted it out. Win and move on–who cares what the traditional media say right now–they get paid more or less by the word.

    Win and move on. Win and move on. Win and move on. Win and move on. Four more to go. You get no extra points for style.

  2. Josh Bowling says:

    You took the words right out of my mouth. Great piece and well articulated. You have said it better than anyone. Looking forward to what should be great games.

  3. williamodouglas says:

    This is from a posting that I did under the pseudonym “Defensivel-challenged” (shh!) on a pretty good site done by a Duke fan who is actually a pretty decent guy! I don’t care if people pick us to lose, but just don’t say that we don’t play defense. Every one of our four title teams were sensational defensively.

    https://www2.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=21097386&postID=5946386351210125444

  4. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I would also point out Kentucky of the early to mid 1990s who routinely ripped their region apart up until the Elite Eightl or Final Four when they inevitably got beat.

    I stopped playing this “They struggled to beat so and so, that must mean they will lose in the next round” game. Roy said Dean Smith taught him that each weekend is a separate four team tournament. You win twice and advance to the next one. What that also means is the previous weekend does not mean much.

  5. williamodouglas says:

    I remember thinking that Carolina would have had a harder time with Kentucky back in 1993 than with Michigan, who we already knew was about the equal of Carolina because they had already played on a neutral court and Michigan won by one point at the buzzer. But Kentucky lost in OT to Michigan.

    Then in 1995, nobody gave UNC a chance against UK in the regional finals. I can’t remember what the line was but it was more than I thought it should have been and I remember a bunch of my non-Carolina friends talking about whether Kentucky would cover such a large spread. Carolina pasted them by 13 and I remember leaping up and down and shouting, “I don’t think that Kentucky is going to cover, I don’t think that Kentucky is going to cover, I don’t think that Kentucky is going to cover!” Rick Pitino had already rented a huge suite for the celebration party, but ended up cancelling it.

    They did eventually get to the summit though, winning two titles in three years, losing the middle one in 1997 to Arizona in OT and I think winning in 1998 in OT against the same team. This accomplishment was almost certainly more impressive than winning back-to-back titles but Kentucky doesn’t have enough graduates working in the media.

  6. Josh Bowling says:

    That’s because they were probably too successful to be working in the media. 🙂 Some people don’t do so well after college.

  7. 52BigGameJames says:

    william–excellent synopsis–I bet you could go back and read about the Heels (premature) demise after that first game against JMU. There have been a lot of great Title games, but I don’t recall ever seeing one that tense–the build-up of the bully G’Town was extensive, and largely legit. They just didn’t factor in James sufficiently. Same mistake made w/Lynch in 93.

    lmao–“I don’t think Kentucky is going to cover”! love it!

    gotta ask: what was this “decent Duke fan’s” take on the Tyler/GH incident?

  8. Tar Heel Fan says:

    “decent Duke fan’s”

    I don’t know any 😉

    Actually I talked to one guy who thought he should not have been suspended for it. I do not know many Duke fans to be quite honest.

  9. 52BigGameJames says:

    likewise THF: I don’t know Duke fans to be that honest either, lol!

  10. […] love for Dewey. Dumb as dirt? Ken Tysiac notes that Reyshawn Terry is still sick. Tar Heel Fan blogs that a few writers think Carolina are vulnerable. Roy not worried about Wright. Jim Young thinks […]

  11. williamodouglas says:

    Well, the guy at the Duke blog, Paul, who is a Pomeroy advocate who focuses on the ACC, didn’t necessarily accept Carolina’s point of view, but he did cover the issue in a fair way in that he stated what he believed was somewhat of a defense, but realized that Carolina people might see it differently. He also said that Coach K’s comments after the game “were not helpful” so that was pretty good.

  12. williamodouglas says:

    About 1982, I always wonder how many of the active Tar Heel internet community saw that game live. If you haven’t, see it on ESPN Classic as soon as you can. I was a junior in high school and it was a really intense game, similar to the NCSU-Maryland ACC Title game several years before in 1974, although lower in scoring as both Georgetown and UNC played outstanding defense and somewhat deliberately.

    Neither team could get any traction and you almost knew that the last team to make a mistake would lose. First, it appeared to be Carolina when Matt missed a 1&1 that could have given us a huge three point lead and then it was Georgetown making the final mistake, as Michael Jordan closed down the lane, which made Fred Brown double-clutch his pass and throw it to Worthy instead.

    Georgetown’s last two field goals in that game hit every part of the rim before going in. After local Gastonia boy and James Worthy’s high school foil, Eric Floyd put G-town ahead 62-61 and before Jordan’s shot, I remember being disappointed although not conceding, telling myself, “we had this game.”

    You see, the Heels had been up 61-58 a couple of minutes earlier and in this game, that amounted to a huge lead. Baskets were not coming easily. I honestly didn’t know whether we could score again or not.

    It was a great game between two great, classy teams (Hoya Paranoia–which I am now convinced was nothing more than shrewd marketing by Thompson and Spike Lee and which changed Georgetown’s image to one more like that of Duke today, would not start until the next couple of years.)

    Who can forget the image of Dean’s close friend, John Thompson hugging Freddie Brown. Thompson’s adopted son, Donald Washington played for UNC in 1973-74 and Thompson served as Smith’s assistant on the 1976 Olympic team. It was hard for Smith to see his close friend suffer the pain of losing.

    Thompson’s sons are now both college coaches, at G-town and Ball State and played earlier this year. When the Washington Post asked him who he was rooting for and what was it like seeing his sons coach against each other, he said that it was somewhat like the 1982 title game, pitting him against someone he deeply loved–at least he knew that he would be happy for one of the teams.(When Georgetown won the Big East under his son, the media asked him if this was better than winning the title against Houston in 1984 and he said, “well, let’s not go that far” and laughed.)

    ESPN just did the Five Reasons You Can’t Blame Freddie Brown, which I thoroughly recommend. I had never realized that Jordan should have gotten some of the credit for that mis-pass. He was already doing it on both ends.

    And if you think that game was good…. Get Adam Lucas’s book about the 1957 Tar Heels who set the never surpassed record for wins in a season without a loss of 32-0. (See, Duke did us a favor by beating UNLV in 1991, because that saved our record since UNLV would have finished 35-0 had they won the Final Four) The 1957 Heels won both of their Final Four games that year in triple overtime!

    Truly, one of the great recruiting advantages that Carolina has had is that unlike Duke, every single one of our national titles and especially the last 3 during the heyday of ESPN have been classics, but not only classics, classics involving players who would go on to be famous in the NBA.

    They show the 1982 and 1993 games (young kids today are shocked that Carolina could beat a team with Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard and Chris Webber) regularly on ESPN Classic and probably will start showing the 2005 game as well, with Felton and Deron Williams doing so well in the NBA and Marvin, McCants and May beginning to do some things.

    This is different from Duke, who only has a regional game that somehow has been dubbed the “greatest game”–oh please–and Kentucky and Arizona who had all those great games but none of the guys on either of those teams ever really became famous. Gilbert Arenas would, but his team lost to Duke in an O.K. but not great title game in 2001. All of Duke’s exciting title games resulted in losses, against Louisville, Arkansas and Connecticut, so ESPN Classic doesn’t tend to run them.

  13. Triadboy says:

    “The University of North Carolina, was named the nation’s favorite basketball team according to the latest Harris Poll. ”

    http://www.benmaller.com/nba_rumors_notes#137221

    I knew it!

  14. williamodouglas says:

    I saw an online poll at one of the Duke sites, which one would presume is mostly viewed by Duke fans and 50% of the people polled said that they thought that Henderson received the proper punishment by the officials. Even though the Lacrosse guys were innocent of crimes, their racisim and rowdy behavior was an embarassment to the Duke community and I think many in the Duke community realize that the Henderson incident was far from helpful in rehabilitating that image.

  15. 52BigGameJames says:

    my take is that GH can be forgiven, as he’s a kid (relatively speaking), but K has done a dis-service to GH, himself, and the entire program with his reaction. A simple apology to Tyler and the program immediately following would’ve sufficed–end of story. Kudo’s to “Paul” for having the good sense to recognize a PR disaster when he sees one.

    I too saw “the 5 reasons” and was enlightened also, as to MJ’s involvement in the play…Worthy’s positioning on that play might have been the only “mistake” he made in the entire Tourney run.

    Thjere was another good regular season showdown with the Hoya’s a year or two later when Yvonne Joseph and John Salley & co squared off with Ewing & Co. That was one helluva Ga Tech team.

  16. williamodouglas says:

    Alas, my sophomore year and we had already lost to Indiana by that time.

  17. Dr. Seuss says:

    THF,

    Thanks for addressing the UNC ‘can’t get no respect’ issue. I stated in a previous post that Dickie V had the Heels winning it all and then some other cat over at ESPN had them losing to Ohio St. in the Final Four. That ‘other cat’ is Doug Gottlieb. Anyway, I did want to add one more little bit of information about this and then I will let it die. Here is a list of just a few victories from the round of 32 among some of the 1 and 2 sees over the weekend. Not to mention Ohio State’s win took place in an overtime that came via a missed free throw and improbable three pointer (and major coaching blunder, imo). And yet I have not heard one comment from any of the talking heads about any of the teams mentioned below being upset. They seem to be saving those predictions exclusively for the Heels.

    Higher Seeded Team and Margin of Victory Lower Seeded Opponent

    #1 seed Florida: 7 point win over #9 seed Purdue
    #2 seed UCLA 5 point win over #7 seed Indiana
    #1 seed Ohio State 7 point win (in OT) over #9 seed Xavier
    #2 seed Georgetown 7 point win over #7 seed Boston College
    #1 seed UNC 14 point win over #9 seed Michigan State

    And yet I don’t hear how vulnerable Ohio State is. UNC gets demerits for losing to GT and Maryland in late season games (at least those guys made the Tournament) while Georgetown’s 14pt. loss to Syracuse (NIT powerhouse) seems as though it never took place. I didn’t realize Michigan St. was such a miserably bad team. I mean why were they even in the tournament to begin with; hell if the Heels can beat ’em they must really suck. Nothing like the juggernauts of Purdue and Xavier.

    Well that’s about it from me on that topic. Before I get off my soap box, let me just close in saying that Luke Winn and the rest of the UNC neysayers (esp. Clark Kellogg, Billy Packer, and Digger Phelps) can kiss my Carolina Blue ass all the way to Atlanta, GA.

    GO HEELS!

  18. williamodouglas says:

    Florida got blown out a couple of times too near the end of the season.

  19. williamodouglas says:

    Actually Florida lost 3 times to teams all rated below GIT and Maryland by Pomeroy during the last 2 weeks of the regular season. But still, how much more respect do you want: Pomeroy and Sagarin have had Carolina rated number one the entire year and that has not budged. It would be pretty boring if every media person said, “Well, I am picking UNC because they are number one in Pomeroy and Sagarin.” Get mad if they say we can’t play defense or get mad if they say we are chokers or get mad if they say we have ugly uniforms and are a buch of rednecks, but we can’t expect everyone to pick us. Dick Vitale is the most famous announcer of all. We can’t really complain.

  20. Tar Heel Fan says:

    And I do not expect everyone to pick them but it just seems like the love for everyone but UNC is unfounded. I thought his use of kenpom stats to prove that G’town would run UNC off the offensive board was intellectually dishonest when UNC just got done dominating MSU who was 0.2% worse than G’town in the statistic he was crowing about and UNC is not to shabby themselves when it comes to offensive board. If he had stated he thought G’town would give Hansbrough problems because they had taller post players or USC/G’town is capable of being physical with Wright in such a way as to neutralize him, I would have been less annoyed but the reasons he gives just do not seem as legitimate to me as others.

  21. williamodouglas says:

    I know, but even though Luke Winn gets paid to do this, he is not certifiably bonkers over Tar Heel basketball like we are.

    I am glad that we are playing Friday-Sunday, so that just in case we might possibly get upset, at least the season will last one day longer than it would have otherwise.

  22. Dr. Seuss says:

    williamodouglas Says:
    “Get mad if they say we can’t play defense or get mad if they say we are chokers…”

    What I am inferring is that is what they are saying. They are implying that Ty Lawson can’t handle USC’s defensive pressure. They are implying that Hansbrough and Wright can’t hang with Hibbert on the boards.They are implying that our boys in blue do not have the heart/toughness/etc. to get to the final four. These are essentially the reasons given by the talking heads that the Heels will not advance past USC or Georgetown. I am by no means suggesting that I want or expect everyone, or even most to have the Heels taking home the title for the second time in 3 years (although I am a little surprised that only 2 out of at least 30 analysts even have them making it out of New Jersey.) What I would expect, is that the other teams of similar seeding be subject to the same criticism. Why do Florida and Ohio State get a pass for their performance in the first two rounds and not the Heels?

    When it takes a number of different things to defeat an opponent (rebound well, shoot well from 3, limit turnovers, etc.) it gets more and more difficult for a team to get the win. But what about when one player has to do multiple things. IF we play Georgetown, is Hibbert going to be able to run his big ass up and down the floor, and out perform Hansbrough, and out perform Wright, and outperform the rest of our bigs off the bench, and defend Hansbrough without fouling out? That’s a pretty big task even for a guy 7’3″. What I am saying is that all of the questions seem to be about what the Heels can or can’t do, while the rest of the 1 and 2 seeds seem to be getting a pass from the media to skip rounds 3 & 4 and advance straight to Atlanta as if this were basketball Monopoly instead of a basketball tournament.

  23. williamodouglas says:

    I am still too happy about 2005 to care what anybody in the media says, unless it involves Duke.

    I remember telling my brother-in-law who went to Wake Forest that 2005 was a huge season for Carolina because we were trying to get back to the Final Four and we had not been since the year 2000 and he said that he was hoping that Wake could get to the Final Four sometime in his lifetime, since it had been 2 years before he was born that they last went….

  24. tim says:

    Wow, our sports casters out here are all doom and gloom on the Trojans. Sounds like they are looking for ratings/readers…..basically money. The game ought to be great and may the best team win and kick some Hoyas ass on Sunday! I’m just happy the Trojans have made it this far and to get a chance to compete against one of the elite basketball programs is something that I am looking forward to watching.

  25. hiutopor says:

    Hi all!

    Very interesting information! Thanks!

    G’night

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