Saturday, April 4, 2009

Heels-Villanova: 5 things to watch

DETROIT - Villanova forward Dwayne Anderson calls North Carolina a "machine" on offense, and the Tar Heels' average of 90 points per game supports his assertion.

By most accounts, No. 1 seed North Carolina (32-4) is a heavy favorite over No. 3 seed Villanova (30-7) in today's 8:47 p.m. NCAA semifinal game at Ford Field. But the Tar Heels also were favored over Kansas in last year's Final Four, and we all know how that turned out.

Here are five things to watch Saturday when the Tar Heels meet Villanova:

1. Cats' two point guards. When Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher are in the game at the same time, Villanova has two players who are extremely quick with the ball and can break down opponents with the dribble.

North Carolina's defense, which hasn't always been great at stopping penetration, will have to find a way to keep Reynolds and Fisher out of the lane when Fisher comes into the game off the bench.

2. Everybody loves an underdog. If hometown favorite Michigan State wins the first semifinal, the Tar Heels will face an extremely hostile crowd in the second game.

No way Michigan State fans want to face North Carolina again after the Tar Heels pummeled the Spartans 98-63 on Dec. 3. Those fans will be rooting hard for the underdog Wildcats.

3. Hansbrough's domination. Villanova doesn't have a big-time post defender, and North Carolina has an All-America post player in Tyler Hansbrough who's determined to win the NCAA title in his senior season.

It sounds like a recipe for Hansbrough to drop 30 points or more in a rout of the Wildcats unless they can find a way to prevent him from getting the ball.

4. Roy riled up. North Carolina coach Roy Williams still is hurt by the way fans and the media reacted to his failure to call timeouts to stop Kansas' early surge and his decision to wear a Kansas sticker two days later at last year's Final Four.

All that pent-up emotion should help Williams get his team motivated to its highest level tonight. That doesn't guarantee that the Tar Heels will win, but it should guarantee that the team will give its best effort.

5. Heels from three. Because it's a smaller team, Villanova might collapse into the lane to prevent Hansbrough, Deon Thompson and Ed Davis from scoring at will.

That will leave open 3-point shots for Wayne Ellington and Danny Green. They can't afford to miss those shots.

-- Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

Exactly which shots can you afford to miss?

Anonymous said...

So, where's my man J.P.'s blog today, about why the Heels will lose?

Anonymous said...

....the shots with 2-3 minutes left and they are up by 20!