#1 UNC vs #9 Arkansas

What: NCAA Tournament 2nd Round
Where: RBC Center, Raleigh, NC
When: Sunday, March 23rd, approx. 5:20 PM
Records: UNC 33-2, Arkansas 23-11
NCAA Results: UNC-def. #16 MSM; Arkansas def. #8 Indiana

Friend of THF and occasional commeter, Geof, was able to snag me a ticket to Sunday’s game so I will be in the RBC Center to see the Heels take on Arkansas.

Quick Trivia: Arkansas has two wins over UNC in the NCAA Tournament. They are one of only four teams with two wins over UNC in the Big Dance. Can you name the other three?

In case you did not know, UNC is 1-2 versus Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament. All three meetings came between 1990 and 1995 with the only UNC win being in the 1993 Sweet Sixteen. That game hold a special place in my heart due to the fact Razorback coach Nolan Richardson spend the better part of the few days ahead of that game running his mouth about how Arkansas was going to do this and that versus the Heels. Daddy save the newspaper clippings from the N&O and after the Heels dispatched Arkansas we sat there and read the relevant quotes from Richardson to each other and laughed about it. The other two games were not nearly as funny. The 1990 game was somewhat excusable since the Heels were a #8 seed and Arkansas a #4. The Razorbacks gave UNC a full dose of their vaunted “40 minutes of hell” in routing UNC. The 1995 game was in the Final Four and the Heels played Arkansas fairly well except Dante Calabria could not hit the broadside of a barn with a sawed off shotgun which was enough to doom the #2 seeded Heels in Donald Williams, Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace’s last game.

Now this all means nothing since it has been 13 years since the last game and UNC does come in as the superior team. However the NCAA Tournament is all about matchups and the Razorbacks have enough inside depth to give UNC fits. Head coach John Pelphrey played for Rick Pitino so it is a sure bet UNC will see pressure defense and some propensity to the three point shot.

Since we could be looking at a situation where Tyler Hansbrough will be challenged and well covered the onus is on the guards to respond with efficient offensive games. UNC also needs Deon Thompson to continue his improvement from last game and the same goes for Alex Stepheson. The danger in this game is if Wayne Ellington and Danny Green both struggle then finding offense might prove difficult. The recovery of Ty Lawson to nearly 100% will be an important aspect to this game, especially if the Heels see any measure of pressure defense. In other words I think this game is easily winnable if UNC strikes that balanced offensive chord and steps up the defense. Allowing MSM to score 41 and the clamping down on them in the 2nd half is not a huge deal given what the offense was doing. Having the same kind of effort against Arkansas could dig a hole that the Heels would rather not have to climb out of in the 2nd half.

Speaking for myself, I would love to see UNC come out and have a similar game to the one they had versus Iowa State in 2005 which was controlling the game earlier and cruising to the win. If that happens, it would be a bigger message than the one they sent Friday night.

UNC 88 Arkansas 72

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16 Responses to #1 UNC vs #9 Arkansas

  1. TxTarheel says:

    Indiana (1981 and 1984) for one..but that’s too easy

  2. william says:

    Take your laptop; I am sure there must be a hot spot.

  3. william says:

    I don’t know if you saw SI, THF, but I was surprised to see how small we are, not actually much bigger than Duke. Tyler masks this but it is a fact. I was surprised to see that our 1993 team was the tallest champ since 1989 (where the stats started being kept by Pomeroy). Stanford almost went out tonight, so that might have been good for UNC but I guess that is all a way’s off.

    One sobering note: Miami and Davidson are the only teams left in the tournament that UNC has beaten. Kentucky, BYU, Kent State, Clemson, all bit the dust on the first day and Duke should have and then took the first opportunity to say bye-bye.

    Will there be any left after tomorrow?

  4. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I will charge my Blackberry and see if I can at least drop comments from it.

  5. JPinFL says:

    Arizona (1988 & 1997) and Syracuse (1975 & 1987) should be the other two. I knew Arizona, but I admit, I had to look up Syracuse as I’m not old enough to remember the ’75 postseason.

  6. Nothin Could be Finer says:

    i was hoping to see Indiana because while they might have more individual talent Ark seems to play better as a team. THF states my concern: that Arkansas’ size inside will give Tyler fits. As William notes we are not particularly tall and Arkansas is, and size has given the Heels problems in the past. however if the team continues our offensive dominance they might not be able to stay with us. The key to me is Lawson. If his offensive game is on then we will be in good shape. The bench also needs to play well because Ark is deep.

  7. william says:

    UCLA may be the luckiest team in the world. Now they get to play San Diego or somebody. I hope the refs in Raleigh lean towards Carolina and Davidson the same way the refs in Anaheim pulled UCLA’s fat out of the fire. UCLA with the big 53 points! Fear the Bruin!

  8. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I thought that dunk came after the buzzer.

    They fouled the A&M guard on the last play which was not called.

  9. Nothin Could be Finer says:

    I thought that was a foul too. CBS did not replay in the coverage i got. After the run of last second favorable calls a conspiracy nut might be suspicious. i hope Tyler gets a lot of calls tomorrow.

  10. william says:

    Dick Enberg does all their games and does not do much to hide his enthusiasm for UCLA. Arkansas lost to Appalachian State earlier this year, so if Carolina loses to Arkansas, we should be prepared for some ribbing by our ASU friends.

  11. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Dick Enberg obviously still thinks it is 1970.

  12. 52BigGameJames says:

    the size thingy is exactly why I’ve been so vocal about Marcus needing to “play bigger”. In a discussion with a friend, I remarked about how Henderson plays that way for Duke—his reply was that Henderson is about 6’7″ or 6’8″, and is a “stud”. I had to point out that Marcus is the same height, but is actually physically bigger (and I’m guessing stronger) than GH. Green has stepped it up, and when/if Alex and Deon bring it, we’ve got enough size.

    If we get bumped, it won’t be because of Tyler, Ty, or Ellington IMO—it will be because our “supporting cast” didn’t step up…at this point a 50/50 proposition. I’ll go with what our HOF coach indicated, which is if we collectively take on Championship level-Defense, then we’ve got a good shot.

    Guard play will be key, and there are some dang good ones in this Tourney. Who’da thunk Pitt’s pair would be outplayed by a white-boy, and a freshman?

  13. UCLA got away with a huge foul on the last A&M possession of the game. How the heck can you not call that?
    I haven’t seen Arkansas play much this year, but the one game I did see them play was against Georgia. They kind of reminded me of Clemson (excepet they won their first round game) with a little less athleticism. They’ll band Tyler and Deon around, so hopefully Ellington, Lawson, and Green hit some outside shots. I don’t think this Arkansas team is a very dangerous shooting team, but you know how the Heels have been defending the perimeter this year.
    I say you’ll see a close one in the first half, then UNC completely blows them apart in the second. If the Heels have done one thing well this year, it’s making the adjustments in the second half to get the win.

  14. william says:

    The only thing is that regardless, we have had a great season. The 2005 team was an amazing collection of players, with three of them, Felton, Williams and McCants, all doing pretty darn well in the NBA and it still had enormous challenges against Villanova, Wisconsin and Illinois.

    The ACC was far better that year, with Carolina, and Wake perhaps having their best teams ever and with Duke garnering a number one seed. NC State was excellent that year as well, taking out UConn and making it to the Sweet 16.

    Regardless of whether we get upset today or next week or go all the way, this has been a great season and I thank all the players and coaches for their efforts.

  15. 52BigGameJames says:

    agreed william! and I’ll add that despite our many/mutual protestations of Coach K and the Evil Empire, isn’t it great to be known as the Mecca of College Hoops! Here’s hoping the ACC gets back to form next year, and administers proper March Madness spankage!
    Meantime: GO HEELS!

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