UNC 108 Arkansas 77


Yeah, it was like that.

During the entirety of this season I have either read or listened to the postgame comments from Roy Williams and this might mark the first time I have heard him say something like this:

“We were pretty doggone good”

I am not sure how it looked on TV but sitting in the RBC Center I would agree.  This team look incredible at almost every facet of the game especially in the first half.  The numbers alone tell the story with 67% shooting and 8-16 from three point to go along with 28 assists against seven turnovers.  That is a 4 to 1 A/TO ratio which is pretty much on another planet.

The really big deal in this game was the play UNC got from Quentin Thomas, Alex Stepheson and Deon Thompson especially the duo at the four spot.  Any coach approaching UNC knows they have contend with Tyler Hansbrough on the interior, Wayne Ellington on the perimeter and Ty Lawson at the point.  They also know Danny Green will come off the bench and makes some good offensive plays.  But what happens if the core trio of Hansbrough, Ellington and Lawson come out firing on all cylinders and you get huge games from Thompson and Stepheson at the four along with Thomas playing the PG position extremely well while Lawson is resting on the bench?  What happens is UNC blows your team off the face of the earth in bone crushing fashion.  When you are talking about the expected scorers producing at a high level and put these other players beside them doing the same thing you are talking about a team with five or six viable offensive options which makes them difficult guard.

And speaking of guarding people, UNC did a little bit of that in this game.  The Heels played some flat out lock down defense in the first half much along the same lines of what they did in the first NC State game.  The Heels were blocking shots in the interior and this is against an Arkansas team with some decent inside presence.  There were multiple instances of UNC forcing Arkansas late into the shot clock and the intensity was where it needed to be.  There was a small letdown in the second half for the first few minutes but then all of a sudden they kicked the gear back in and got huge run up to extend the lead to the 35 point range.

To conclude the weekend, UNC completely dismantled two teams in incredibliy precise fashion, especially when it came to Arkansas. This game was over at 9-0 when John Pelphrey burned his first timeout in hopes of stopping the bleeding.  He would end up burning all of them before the game was out and it did not do the Razorbacks a lick of good.  UNC was just “too doggone good” to quote Ol’ Roy.

And when it comes to playing in the NCAA Tournament I know that come 7:27 PM on Thursday versus Washington State what happened in this game and the one before will not mean a darn thing.  Momentum is extremely fleeting and apt to be with you one weekend only to desert you the next.   You also factor in the fact that according to seed Washington State is twice as good as Arkansas was, which means the next game will require an even higher level of play.  From what I have seen so far and heard in postgame comments these players understand how well they are playing and they also understand the need to keep pushing the envelope.  Nothing can be take for granted at this point but if these Tar Heels continue to play with the focus and intensity they have shown this weeked the rest of the field should take notice and get ready.


45 Responses to UNC 108 Arkansas 77

  1. william says:

    According to Pomeroy, Carolina had one of their worse defensive efforts of the year. He has Thursday night’s game as a pick-em.

  2. william says:

    Here’s my letter to Ken Pomeroy and John Gasaway(is that name made up?):

    Dear Sirs:

    I can’t wait for your next article so you can tell everyone how great UCLA and Wisconsin are and how goshdarn horrible North Carolina is–I mean does UNC play any defense at all? Arkansas dropped 77 points on them! A truly great team should win every game 53-51 and utilize all of its possessions efficiently.

    You guys may need to watch more games and not get so obsessed with the numbers that you do not understand. If Washington State beats Carolina, it will be a great win for them and a great upset. Only you and Ken actually believe Washington State is just as good as UNC and why? Well, I guess because WSU has lost to a lot of good teams. They haven’t beaten many, but you see, to a stats head, that is besides the point. I mean, they’ve lost to Stanford three times and to Arizona and UCLA twice, so they must be great, and oh, to Cal too. And of course they did beat ASU and Baylor to be fair.

    I have a new motto for Basketball Prospectus: “Where winning doesn’t matter, as long as you lose efficiently.”

    William Loeffler

  3. Tar Heel Fan says:

    The problem with the numbers is there is no consideration given to the fact UNC was up 25 at halftime and basically went on cruise control to begin the 2nd half at which point Arkansas shot the ball better and scored 51 points. The 26 points on 36% shooting in the first half seems to be lost in that analysis

    I did notice that these two games were by far the best offense of the season.

  4. Tar Heel Fan says:

    It would seem that their algorithms are weighted to compute defense a certain way and favor it heavily in the rankings and comparing teams.

  5. william says:

    The whole point of PPP analysis, I thought, was to erase the bias that teams that always have low scoring games play better defense. Strangely enough, it seems like it is right back in Pomeroy’s numbers. Most of the team’s that he rates highly on defense are the the low scoring teams like UCLA, Memphis, Wisconsin, WSU, and most of the ones he rates lowly on defense are the running teams like UNC, Texas and Tennessee. This was not true in the past, so maybe it is a temporary blip, but it sure seems like the old days where we were told that low scoring teams play better defense.

  6. 52BigGameJames says:

    ESPN has Stu Scott on unofficial muzzle about the Heels, lol!

  7. Russell says:

    Interesting that the CBS website computer head-to-head match up with Wash. St. predicts an upset by Wazzu. Also, if UNC is pitted against Tennesse, it predicts an upset by the Vols. Guess they get their imput stats from Pomeroy?

  8. 52BigGameJames says:

    so what’s your prediction Russ?

  9. william says:

    Well, Pomeroy dislikes Tennessee more than UNC. And when I say Pomeroy, I mean his ratings. Sometimes he says things that do not correspond and he is far from clear from articulating when he is speaking for himself, or for his “neutral” stats. Arkansas’ coach said that UNC was the best team they had faced this year.

    One thing we can already see is the level of parity and statistical noise in a single elimination tournament. 3 Big East teams are still alive–does anyone believe these are the 3 best teams from the Big East, or that Villanova and West Virginia are suddenly better than Georgetown? Is everyone convinced that Stanford is better than Marquette?

    That is why it is mere garbage to argue for expanding the tournament with respect to the major conference teams–it simply proves nothing and makes the tournament mean less, not more–less likely to provide the true best team in the final night of play.

  10. 52BigGameJames says:

    this is as good a place as any to give kudos to the Selection Committee. You’re right, it’s one and done, but they do a good job of mixing contrasting styles as the Tourney progresses, which HELPS to insure the best team emerges. There’s NO POSSIBLE way stats can account for Ty’s injury & recovery, and the resulting dynamic.

  11. Russell says:

    Heels will win, but it won’t be the Benz on the Autobahn enjoyed this weekend. Wassu’s a grinder, not likely to make the fatal strategic error of trying to fast-break a la Clemson.

    Who is Stu Scott?

  12. william says:

    It should be interesting: UNC plays the fourth fastest game in the country aaannnnddd Waaassshhhinnngtoooonnnn Sssstttaaattteee pppppllllaaaayyyyssss tttthhheee 336th fastest (fourth from the last) in the country.

  13. william says:

    My class but I didn’t know him.

  14. 52BigGameJames says:

    you mean like against Va Tech? The remaining teams that worry me the most are KU (balance & depth), and MSU (guard play).

  15. Russell says:

    Nope. Clemson. Purnell the Stupid.
    I have KU as champs on my hedge sheet. All the stats and computers have UCLA with a ±25% chance against the remaining field. That’s pretty commanding. And personally deflating.

  16. Russell says:

    Actually, I like Purnell. When he figures out how to coach a team to finish a game, he’ll be reliably good competition in the ACC.

  17. william says:

    Honestly, the entire Pac Ten offends me. John Wooden played fast paced, fast breaking basketball, with outlet passes and zone presses. Howland and the rest of the Pac Ten seem to be trying to take the conference back to 1953 or something. It was boring back then and it is boring now. Hopefully, Carolina can drop another 100 on WSU and its boring and bland program and send a message for fast-paced ball.

  18. Russell says:

    Hear! Hear! William!

  19. TxTarheel says:

    it’s a good things that computers, stats and analytical geeks don’t play the game…players still have to play and coaches still have to coach. I think Roy knows how to get this team to achieve and hopefully the right buttons continue to be pushed. Flying a little under the radar, in as much a # 1 seed can, is not such a bad thing. Memphis & UCLA both struggled in their 2nd round games…UNC has yet to struggle

    Wash State would be well-served to force a half-court offense / reduced tempo onto the Heels, or at least attempt it.

  20. Nothin Could be Finer says:

    WSU will try to slow things down but that has been tried before… I actually think the Heels are on an ascending slope for improvement and their best play is still ahead.

  21. I agree with Nothin. I understand all the Tar Heel haters out there are drooling when they see that WASU only gives up about 54 points per game, but WASU hasn’t faced a team with the speed of UNC yet, not even the class of the Pac-10 UCLA.
    I can only wish that UNC drops 100 on them, but it’s not likely to happen. It seems like Roy has the boys focused, and I hope they don’t lose that focus.

  22. nathan says:


  23. nathan says:

    we caught a few early breaks when weems dribbled it off his knee and missed a few open shots, at the other end lawson and ellington both hit their first shots. At that point, the tone of the game was set. The impressive thing was how we never took our foot off the pedal. Thats maturity.

    Lavin said on ESPN that UNC has the best starting five in the country, but the bench is suspect. What an idiot! I’d bet QT, Stepheson, and Green would be starting on most teams, and Graves is playing damn solid.

    With WSU coming up, our half court game has to be good. I’ve got a good feeling about it. I predict a close game with UNC pulling ahead late.

  24. 52BigGameJames says:

    watching Stackhouse take down Ginobili last night, it’s fun to imagine how he would’ve reacted to the Henderson incident last year were he still in light blue…just musing, lol.

  25. Will says:

    Amazing to me that Ty is playing so well after sitting out a month. Before his injury, he had been dishing out 10 assists with 0 turnovers. Seems like he is about back to that level.

  26. C. Michael says:

    70 will be the magic # on Thursday. UNC scores more than 70, they win easily. Less, and it will be a dogfight, which, contrary to the opinion of some, UNC has more than enough experience in…

  27. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I did not understand Lavin’s comment about UNC depth. He was obviously not watching Green, Stepheson, QT and even Will Graves play great basketball this weekend.

  28. Dfrom Fl says:

    Is there a website that carries the post game interview from which the above picture is taken? I checked the N & O but didn’t see the coach post game interview. Thanks!

  29. Tar Heel Fan says:



    Click on the first video with Roy’s picture on it and you can skip to the 1:45 mark. Basically what happened was Ginyard answered this question about how it felt to be playing as good as they played and when he was done the moderator asked Tyler Hansbrough is he cared to comment. Hansbrough waits two seconds then deadpans

    “Uh, no, not really.”

    Everyone cracks up laughing and Hansbrough just maintains this stoic look playing the role of the straight man to a T.

  30. william says:

    Have you guys been able to believe some of the dunks and drives that Quentin Thomas has been making the last six weeks? On a couple of those dunks, he really showed some athleticism. I guess we see why Roy recruited him after scratching our heads for 3 years. I honestly think he could be a back-up point in the NBA, or definitely play in Europe.

  31. Logical Consideration says:

    C. Michael, you came close to hitting it on the head. I don’t quite think 70 is a magic number. We’ve only been held under 70 by one team, OSU, and won anyway—and that was a Lawson-free game. We scored 80 and 78 in our 2 losses. What I have been saying all season when watching these low scoring wins (winning while scoring 60 or less) by a number of top teams is that they better find a way to score more points. They do play good enough defense to slow us down SOME, but basically you can give up on beating us if you can’t score at least 70 points. So, maybe I think 70 is important, but not for us, for them. If they can score 70+ they might be in it. If they don’t, they won’t be.

  32. Steve says:

    They missed 21 shots and got 11 offensive boards, and those Ark guys were big.

  33. Flitz says:

    i HATE CAROLINA!!! I FOLLOW THEM ALL YEAR LONG, and they have to blow everyone out so theyre not on TV! I want to watch them dammit! But i guess its better than them switiching to the carolina game cause theyre down 2 to a 16 seed with 2 minutes left right?

  34. […] that title winners have. Arkansas may have played poorly, but even if they had played well, they probably would have lost by 20. Sure, there is no reason to get carried away by two expected wins, but watching this […]

  35. william says:

    I don’t see any email address at his site, but I must say that Jackie Manuel’s Posse has really improved this year, in my estimation. I don’t always get him, but he seems somewhat less strange and mysterious this year and somewhat more focused on hardhitting analysis.

    I would especially recommend the following article of his, similar to what THF has written here:


    Gasaway printed a couple of my comments in the past on his Big Ten Wonk site and always seemed like a decent guy–althought, perhaps, rarely so wrong!–so I forwarded him a copy of Jackie Manuel Posse’s letter, together with the following comment:

    You know what the Big Ten Wonk would have done? He would have printed this rebuttal and then made some sort of snarky, face-saving remark and everyone would have gone home happy, instead of leaving many of your most devoted readers quite annoyed by the lack of depth with your original argument. How much work is it to print a few rebuttals from people who are hanging on your every word. If you aren’t careful, you are liable to end up with some extra competition next year.

    I’m just saying….

    William L.,
    Longtime Admirer of Clair Bee, Frank McGuire and World Be Free….

  36. BS Jet says:

    All season, even with the wins that the Tarheels had, I’d told people the weren’t playing well from beginning to end. It just wasn’t there. The tournaments first and second rounds were there best games this year, and the way they can play when hitting on all cylinders. I was most impressed with the defensive play. If they continue this it won’t matter who the other team is. These guys can flat out play!

  37. jackiemanuel says:

    Cheers William!

    John did write me about the post and called it a ‘darn good fisking’. I’m not sure he agrees, but 4 of 7 BP analysts (including Gasaway) picked Carolina to make it to the final four. I’m pretty sure stats will never give us Answers in a team game game like basketball but they will give us plenty of clues that help us understand the game better (if that makes sense). A work in progress for sure. I’ don’t know if anything is wrong with Pomeroy’s numbers. I do think the defense was worrying at times this season and that many didn’t condsider the full effect of losing a player as good as Brandan Wright (soft or not soft). If the system is off this year it could be in how they count possessions or it could be that the conferences play so differently. Purdue put up 90! Using possessions as a varaible to measure efficiency is rad, but it doesn’t explain everything about playing fast. One might expect more turnovers, but we don’t turn it over much (Lawson!) Our outstanding offensive rebounding has to contributed a bit to our poor defesive numbers. If you are crashing the boards you are not always getting back. It did seem weird that our defense was rated better by BP without Lawson while our O stayed the same. The secondary break was practicully null for some of those games. Anyways, you don’t need an algorithm to see the improvement in Carolina this weekend. Tywon, Tyler, and Wayne all have O ratings of over 120. No other team has three starters like that. They just might be looking at the wrong stats.

    I’m still very strange though.

  38. william says:

    I agree with all of that. Sure, I am a Heels and ACC fan, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to know what really makes the game tick, but when things don’t make sense to me, I am not just going to receive the wisdom from on high. The Baseball stats guys don’t do that. They argue about everything until people are generally convinced.

    The other thing is that I don’t believe that Gasway realizes that he has traded in his Big Wonk hat for a different one at Basketball Prospectus, where we expect him to develop detailed arguments with data, not to decide things for us based upon his likes and dislikes. He had that freedom at BTW, but now he should be applying sounder principles.

    He starts out by making some interesting arguments that made me interested in watching Kevin Love some more and making me wonder if Love isn’t the top player this year. But then Gasaway precludes you and me from deciding for ourselves based upon watching the two of them and their teams play and then looking at their stats. Gasaway has decided that Love is better and there simoly is no way around that.

    This is silly because first of all, there is not a lot of difference that I can see between the numbers Gasaway presented. Secondly, unlike a full season of baseball where raw data is more persuasive, Gasaway seems to think that we don’t even need to watch the guys to know who is better.

    This seems especially specious, given that virtually everyone who watches Hansbrough comes away impressed by the sheer audacious will and tenacity that he shows on the court. Love looks good out there too, but not in the crazed, frenetic, win at all costs manner that Tyler has. I guess there was a similar argument years ago regarding East coast and West coast jazz and we all knew who won that one.(East coast). But just imagine if someone told us we should just look at the sheet music without ever actually listening to it, in order to decide which was “best.”

    Gasaway’s approach, whether he realizes it or not, is anti-basketball. You don’t even need to watch the games and just based upon a few statistics, he can tell you who is better.

    This is not the way that Dean Oliver did it. Take a look at his book. He talks about stats being persuasive but doesn’t tell people that it is his way or the highway. I recently did a short review of one of his chapters where Oliver purports to tell us who was better, Wilt or Bill Russell, and guess what, Oliver goes through all the arguments and then makes a hypothesis but let’s us draw our own conclusions. That is how you do it, not by trying to shove it down people’s throats.


  39. jackiemanuel says:

    I’ll give you that he uses only stats in the article but I’m quite sure John believes you have to watch the game too. Are they too reliant on Pomeroy’s numbers? Probably, but I’m willing to give them time to find their stride. At this point, the Pomeroy numbers are the best ones out there. Stats kept at 341 arenas with 31 conferences are always going to be less significant than the smaller professional leagues. Dean Oliver is their hero, so I’ll assume that even if they get lost on the way that BP is not biased and that they are trying to find answers. Their job is harder.

  40. Tar Heel Fan says:

    The issue I had with Gasaway’s assertion was that the stats were not a total slam dunk in favor of Love over Hansbrough. Yes, Love was a much better rebounder and shot the ball better but Hansbrough had better offensive eff and FT rate. He also made too much of the blocked shots difference without mentioning the steals which is something JP Giglio at ACC Now did last week after he asserted from watching the NCAA 1st round that Love was a better defender than Hansbrough. I asked why he thought that and he said the shot blocking was why. I do not quite understand why people ignore the steals stat and I also know watching Hansbrough play he is an excellent defender who chooses not to go for block to avoid foul trouble.

  41. Josh Bowling says:

    Who is this that poses as Jackie Manuel?

  42. jackiemanuel says:

    Very good point about the steals. You can’t give Lowe credit for being blocking shot and not mention Tyler’s quickness for a big man. I am just a blogger who lives in his mom’s basement.

  43. nick l says:

    If you guys could draft one of them, would you pick Tyler? See, I think the problem is that Gassaway didn’t just go with the stats, but let what his eyes told him–that Love’s a more talented bb player–affect his piece. He cherry-picked the stats that reflected Love’s skills.

    Love IS a better bb player–I don’t think it’s even close.

    (I’m a Heels fan but live on the West Coast & see Love a lot. Amazing passer, blocks shots, can shoot the 3 or score inside. I hate to say it, but that move where Tyler gets his shot blocked, gets it back, and scores? Not gonna work so well in the NBA. Not to mention that he hasn’t made a 3 all year…)

    But none of this stuff means Love was a more effective NCAA player this past season.

    So, pure “watching” isn’t the answer either, cause pure watching tells you Love can do more things.

  44. 52BigGameJames says:

    excellent post nick–hopefully we’ll see them go head to head, and work it out on the court.
    pretty silly to assume that Tyler wouldn’t adjust to the NBA game though don’t you think?

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