In the next of our National Semi-Final previews, the East Region Champions- Villanova- will take on the South Region Champion and #1 Seed, North Carolina.
The Tar Heels (32-4) got to the Final Four with wins over #16 Radford (by 43), #8 LSU (by 14), #4 Gonzaga (by 22), #2 Oklahoma (by 12).
Villanova (30-7) beat #14 American (by 13), #6 UCLA (by 20), #2 Duke (by 23), and #1 Pittsburgh (by 2).
North Carolina is a monster that many analysts have dubbed the 2009 National Champion before the school year even started. They have 5 players averaging double digits. First Team All-American Tyler Hansbrough is scoring 20.9 points a game. Second Team All-American Ty Lawson is good for 16.3 points and 6 assists for each contest. Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, and Deon Thompson are all scoring in double digits as well.
The Key to the game will be in slowing down Ty Lawson. Lawson missed a game in the ACC Tournament and one in the NCAAs due to a toe injury- his play and presence is a key for NC's success. In his 3 tournament games, he has 20 assists against 2 turnovers. If Villanova can keep him to shooting outside shots and prohibit him from successfully driving the lane and dishing off to other players- the 'Cats could be in decent shape.
'Nova will also need to limit the NC transition too- because, no one in the country is better at it than Carolina.
Being realistic, there is a talent disparity between Villanova and North Carolina- however- the Wildcat Defense is hitting strides and has the capability to neutralize this gap. 'Nova's mental and physical toughness is an intangible that NC Coach Roy Williams is well aware of.
Offensively for Villanova, the 'Cats will NEED to hit their outside shots from behind the arc. They will NEED to avoid getting into a running game with the Tar Heels. The will NEED to let to move the ball and not take early shots in the possession to wear down UNC on defense.
All 5 starters ability to put the ball down- these 'Cats are going to need to use dribble penetration to effectively open up space and create shots.
- Villanova is 4-9 against North Carolina all-time. The last matchup was in the NCAA Tournament in 2005. A game that UNC won 67-66.
- The Wildcats are 1-3 against the Tar Heels in the NCAA Tourney. Villanova's lone win came in the 1985 Elite 8.
- UNC is 100-39 in the NCAA Tournament. They are 8-9 in the National Semifinal.
- Villanova is 48-29 in the NCAA Tournament. 'Nova is 2-1 in the National Semifinal.
- 'Nova has a record 15 all-time wins in the Tourney as a lower-seed.
- Dante Cunningham will set a Villanova record playing in his 139th game as a Wildcat.
- Villanova is 8-4 against nationally ranked teams this season.