NCAA Tournament First Round: #8 UNC Vs. #9 Villanova
- CoachingRoy Williams has led Kansas and North Carolina teams to seven Final Fours and won two NCAA championships. His résumé is as strong as any coach in college basketball today.Jay Wright did an underrated job with the Wildcats this year, transforming a floundering young squad (they lost by 18 to Columbia!) into a deserving tournament team.
- OffenseNorth Carolina was 14th in the nation in points per game and third in assists, while shooting a respectable 44.4 percent from the field. The Tar Heel offense is potent.The Wildcats have one of the worst offenses among tourney teams, shooting a paltry 41.5 percent as a team while, for the most part, banging out gritty victories.
- DefenseStifling opponents’ offenses is not one of North Carolina’s strengths, but the Tar Heels rely heavily on forcing turnovers (they average eight steals a game) and securing rebounds.It’s not exactly the Liberty Bell curtain there in Philadelphia, but the Wildcats made huge strides in fortifying the paint. Their improved play started on the defensive end.
- Bench DepthJunior guard Leslie McDonald has been their biggest bench contributor of late, where he acts almost exclusively as a three-point shooter. The rest of the bench can be erratic.Tony Chennault and freshman Daniel Ochefu are Villanova’s bench standbys, but neither one of them has been especially productive. Like the Tar Heels, Nova will live and die with its starters.
Statistically speaking, North Carolina is the superior unit, but Villanova improved drastically after some early-season jitters. Slight edge to UNC. -Adam Spunberg, College Basketball Contributor