That's right, I'm working on a Saturday. No, do not fear I will be able to watch the games and luckily it will be coinciding with K-man's bachelor party festivities. At least I am getting paid for my weekend work, right? Wait, what? Noooooo. Anyway it affords me a few moments to put together the crap(s) we have heard all week about the game tonight.
You may have heard, but the Wildcats won the 1985 national championship as underdog 8 seeds over Georgetown. In that title game they shot 78.6% from the field. So far this tournament the 3 seed underdog Wildcats have shot a total 45.1% in all their games. If they want to be the upset story again this year, the only chance they have is shoot over 60%. Turnovers and rebounding will be important but Carolina has too much in too many areas in this match-up. You cannot stop the Heels from scoring, so if Nova wants a shot, they will have to be ripping the nets and that means early, right from the tip. You fall behind early, UNC smells blood and it is over. The Wildcats need look no further than the tape from the Oklahoma game against Carolina; miss a ton of shots, early fall behind even while playing at a slow pace. Those shots have to fall for Nova and that requires a way above average performance in shooting.
Trying to stop any one facet of the Heel's offense is literally a roll of the dice. Even if one of their offensive weapons comes up snake eyes, you will likely get a strong performance from another area. Gambling jokes aside, Ty Lawson is getting undeserved heat for his casino trip, but the press was dying for a story outside of Nate Miles and good coaching. Carolina is going to come out swinging in this game and put the pressure on Nova, if Nova cannot keep up, it will be over quickly. I think Carolina's point of attack needs to be Lawson and Hansbrough. There is probably no guard in the country that can contain Lawson and he is the conduit for getting the Heels open shots, particularly in transition. Getting the ball to Hansbrough will lead to him powering his way to the bucket or better yet, drawing fouls on Dante Cunningham, which cripples Nova's inside game.
Prediction: UNC takes this one in a snoozer.
Everyone wants to give Tom Izzo credit and who can blame them. The man runs a clean program (apparently), he gives hope to his crumbling state, he has reached 5 Final Fours and cut the nets down once. He is one of the best tournament coaches in the country right now and a lot of people talk about the one day turnaround from 1st to 2nd round and Sweet 16 to Elite 8. One glaring stat that is not so pretty is his 1-4 record in national semifinals. Granted you are playing the toughest competition at that point but the other teams have a whole week to prepare for you instead of one day in the Elite 8. The key for the Spartans is rebounding, they usually outrebound their opponents by the widest margin in the country but they face a terrific rebounding team in UConn. Their defense will frustrate the Huskies but can they keep them off the offensive boards? Suton will probably not be covered by Thabeet who will hang back in the paint, but if Goran hits the threes like he did against Lousiville, the Spartans will have the edge. They do have to be careful about getting too hyped by playing in front of the home crowd, the energy you get from that will wear off quickly.
A.J. Price has been through a lot, and he struggled at times against Mizzou in the Elite 8, but he hit the big shots when he needed to and finished with 18. He needs to go 20+ in this game in my opinion for the Huskies to win. Thabeet does not need to score, only rebound, play defense, and have the occasional dunk or tip in down low. Stanley Robinson will hopefully continue his great play and Jeff Adrien has to hit his 15 foot jumper. If Adrien does that it creates about the same effect as Suton and will make it easier to rebound. The guard duo of Craig Austrie and Kemba Walker are also important, they cannot turn the ball over and need to drive and create as the UConn offense does get stagnant at certain times. Jim Calhoun is 4-0 in the final four and it is 10 and 5 years since his last trip, if they had a healthy Jerome Dyson I would be banging the drum for them, but instead it is left up to the collective effort of their players. They have to get the contributions from all areas to win as opposed to the pick your poison action of Carolina.
Prediction: UConn takes it in a squeaker.