Thoughts on the NCAA tournament and Final Four following North Carolina’s 96-84, overtime loss to Georgetown in the East Regional final:
- I’m a big critic of the cliché that great guards win in March, because I believe it’s far more important to have great big guys. Ohio State (Greg Oden), Florida (Joakim Noah and Al Horford) and Georgetown (Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert) support my theory. But I believe North Carolina post players Tyler Hansbrough and Brandan Wright were just as good as Green and Hibbert on Sunday, and the superior play of Georgetown’s guards won the game.
- Throughout the season fans questioned whether North Carolina coach Roy Williams was going too deep into his bench and should have kept his best players on the floor more. But that wasn’t a factor Sunday. Point guard Ty Lawson played a season-high 40 minutes and North Carolina still didn’t win. In fact, if Williams hadn’t taken great pains to develop his bench, the Tar Heels might have never defeated a thinner Southern California team in the East Regional semifinals.
- Presuming that Wright leaves for the NBA and Hansbrough and Lawson return (just a guess there), the Tar Heels still will be a top-five team in the national rankings to start next season and the preseason favorite to win the ACC.
- Tar Heel fans’ list of wishes for next season should read something like this: 1. More touches in the post for Hansbrough and fewer jump shots. 2. Bobby Frasor’s return to good health. 3. Lawson and Wayne Ellington learn to defend as well as Marcus Ginyard. 4. Hansbrough develops a mid-range jump shot but rarely has to use it.
- Watching Florida guard Lee Humphrey against Oregon was like watching Duke guard Greg Paulus late in the season. Both struggled to stop opposing guards from penetrating. But both were so accurate from 3-point range that their teams could live with their defensive shortcomings.
- Ohio State’s Oden should get the best of Hibbert in the meeting of 7-foot centers in the national semifinals. Georgetown’s patient offense might lull Oden to sleep and leave him vulnerable to fouls. But Oden is by far the superior player athletically.
- UCLA is the least appealing Final Four team from an aesthetic standpoint. The Bruins play the most physical style – bumping cutters, nudging the dribblers while showing off ball screens – of the national semifinalists. Basketball was not meant to be played with that much contact.
- Another sign ACC basketball has slumped in basketball: This is the first time the conference has failed to get a team to the Final Four for two straight years since 1979-80. - Ken Tysiac