#1 UNC vs #4 Washington State

What: NCAA Tournament East Regional Semifinal
When: Thursday, March 27, 7:27 PM
Where: Bobcat Arena, Charlotte, NC
Records: UNC 34-2, WSU 26-8
NCAA Results: UNC-def. #16 Mt. St. Mary’s, def.  #9 Arkansas; WSU-def. #13 Winthrop, def. #5 Notre Dame

Attempting to do what no other UNC has ever done.

UNC has never won 35 games in a season which is fairly hard to believe but there it is.  A win of Washington State would put UNC in the Elite Eight and mark the 35th win of the season which would be a record.  By all accounts, it will be a hard fought win againt a tough defensive minded opponent who prefers to slow the game down just as much as UNC wants to run as wide open as possible.

If I had to name my biggest concern it would be the limitation of possession combined with a poor shooting night from the Heels, especially from Ellington/Green.  Everyone wearing Carolina blue played so extremely well this past weekend I am little fearful of the pendulum swinging backing the other way giving us an off night.  UNC has also shown a tendency in games this season of allowing certain teams to walk out and smack them in the mouth to start the game which has UNC down early.  During the regular season when this happened UNC eventually asserted itself at some point and went on to win the game with the Duke and Maryland games being the exceptions as reflected in the loss column.  The trepidation I sense is during the NCAA Tournament allowing a team to knock you back a little to start the game could embolden that team with confidence that they can hang with you and the longer they remain viable in the game the more difficult it comes to put them down.

The best way for UNC to handle WSU is to come out and play some great defense themselves in the “fight fire with fire” mentaility.  If the Heels can throw WSU out of sync on offense by creating some turnovers it can serve to ignite the fast breal.  Controlling the defensive boards is also very important since it also could offer up some break opportunities.  In terms of the halfcourt offense, where UNC could spend most of it’s time, getting Ellington on track early is key as is having Ty Lawson break through that WSU defense with penetration. I am not sure UNC wants to make this a jump shooting game on the offensive end.  Getting the ball to Tyler Hansbrough in good scoring position is paramount but more than that having Alex Stepheson and Deon Thompson play with the same level of effectiveness as they did in Raleigh will be problematic for the Cougars.

When it is all said and done I think UNC has far too many weapons for WSU to effectively handle.  However this does not mean UNC still does not find themselves in the middle of an absolute war going down the stretch but in the end I fully expect this team to do what they have done all season: Adapt and win regardless of what the other team throws at them.

UNC 75 WSU 66

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7 Responses to #1 UNC vs #4 Washington State

  1. Jack says:

    From http://www.fayobserver.com/article?id=289761

    UNC NUMBERS
    221: Points scored in two NCAA tournament wins, most in the tournament. Western Kentucky is second at 173.
    64.0: Shooting percentage in those wins
    1: National rank this season of Carolina’s offense at 89.9 ppg.
    29: Games with 80 points or more this season.

    WSU NUMBERS
    81: Points allowed in two NCAA tournament wins, second best. UCLA has allowed only 78 in its first and second round wins.
    27.6: Shooting percentage of WSU opponents Winthrop and Notre Dame. After halftime, the Eagles shot 4-for-24, while the Fighting Irish were 6-for-25.
    2: National rank this season of Washington State’s scoring defense at 56.1 ppg.
    1: Games allowing 80 points or more this season, in an 81-74 loss at UCLA on Jan. 12.

  2. Johnny says:

    If I recall correctly, the Heels have only the Ohio State game and VaTech in the ACC tourney to point to in the games below 70 points column (and the former was without Lawson). The over/under was 140, so THF’s prediction fits right in with what the bookies are expecting.

  3. […] to an anonymous coach about how to beat North Carolina. Derrick Lowe remembers Roy. Tar Heel Fan thinks Danny and Wayne will be key. ACC Now has tons from Charlotte. Cougar fans are confident. A smart Tar Heel Fan […]

  4. william says:

    Winthrop was far from the team that they have been in past years. And in addition to that, they shared an attribute with WSU, that of playing extremely slow. Winthrop is about the 300th slowest team in the tournament. They actually had a decent lead in the first half, but I think they got dispirited and were not playing all that hard in the second half. Winthrop was about on the level of WSU’s other “big” wins this year, versus Baylor, Oregon, ASU, etc.

    Notre Dame was by far WSU’s best game of the year. Now the question is whether they can do it again, playing on a faraway “neutral” court against the number one team. Maybe this is Hoosiers, where the slow, talent-challenged farm boys teach the integrated big city high about how to play “real” basketball.

  5. william says:

    I should add Southern Cal, as well. Those were pretty good wins.

    Speaking of which, THF, do you remember our Sweet 16 game last year?

    What happened to USC? They truly seemed to be a team on the rise with Taj Gibson and OJ Mayo? Did they lose some good players that were somewhat under the radar?

  6. I watched a lot of Washington State vs Notre Dame on the NCAA website. I’m not trying to downplay WASU’s talent, but Notre Dame missed a boatload of pretty easy shots. THe big key is the offensive glass. Herrangoty (spelling?) managed to pull 22 boards while getting beat by 20.
    This has the potential to be UNC-Villanova from 2005, but Nova that year played with a four guard offense and could REALLY light it up from three point land. I know WSU has some shooters, but nothing like that Nova team.
    It’s possible that the Cougars can deliver that opening punch in the mouth, but even if they do the response willbe overwhelming. I think UNC wins by at least 15 tonight!

  7. william says:

    That Villanova game was hell. Everything went wrong that game and they still managed to stay on top, although it wasn’t quite as bad as people “remember” because Villanova hit a 3 with one second left. I don’t think Villanova ever had the ball and a chance to go ahead. The travel everyone remembers, if nullified,would have only been a two point basket bringing them within one.

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