CarolinaBlue.com contributor Chris Moore gives an in-depth look at the Friday night's matchup between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Villanova Wildcats.
Tar Heels' Advantage:
North Carolina and Villanova play a similar style of basketball, with guard-heavy lineups and high-pressure defense. The good news for UNC? The Tar Heels play it a little bit better. While UNC’s offense has hit an efficient rhythm – save for the Duke game – Villanova has been wildly inconsistent on the offensive end. The Wildcats don’t spread the ball around the court well, and they get little production from the bench. Expect UNC to come out pressing to knock Villanova out of sync early.
Tar Heels' Concern:
Villanova’s frontcourt isn’t the biggest UNC has faced this season, but it’s one that can be effective at times. The Wildcats were the second-best defensive rebounding team in the Big East and average better than 11 offensive rebounds per contest. Mouphtaou Yarou is a long, powerful forward who’s capable of a double-double anytime he’s on the floor. P.J. Hairston matches up well with JayVaughn Pinkston (6-6, 240 pounds) at the four-spot, but he’ll need to bring his best defensive game.
It’s been a tumultuous season for the Wildcats, who likely wouldn’t have made the tournament if not for an upset of Georgetown the last week of the season. But, Villanova is a dangerous team, especially against top-notch opponents. The Wildcats are 3-0 against top-five opponents and playing their best ball of the season. Like UNC, the magic formula for Villanova is finding its shooting touch, as it is 14-1 when making at least six 3-pointers but 6-12 when it fails to do so.
Ever since Villanova saw that it drew UNC in the opening round, coach Jay Wright has turned the focus to guarding the 3-point line. For good reason, too. Villanova is the No. 296 team in the country in 3-point defense, allowing opponents to knock down 36.6 percent of their treys. Wright said the problem starts with transition defense, noting that UNC excels at creating open shots on the fast break. “I think this will be as good a 3-point shooting team as we’ve played all year,” Wright said.
No. Name Ht. Wt. Pos. Yr. Hometown
2 Henry Lowe 5-11 185 G Fr. New York, N.Y.
4 Darrun Hilliard 6-6 205 G So. Bethlehem, Pa.
5 Tony Chennault 6-2 195 G Jr. Philadelphia, Pa.
10 Mislav Brzoja 6-4 205 G Fr. Zagreb, Croatia
12 Nick McMahon 6-0 165 G Jr. Colts Neck, N.J.
13 Mouphtaou Yarou 6-10 255 F Sr. Natitingou, Benin
15 Ryan Arcidiacono 6-3 195 G Fr. Longhorne, Pa.
20 Patrick Farrell 6-5 200 F Fr. Rockville Centre, N.Y.
22 JayVaughn Pinkston 6-7 260 F RS So. Brooklyn, N.Y.
23 Daniel Ochefu 6-11 245 F Fr. Baltimore, Md.
24 Achraf Yacoubou 6-4 210 G So. Bronx, N.Y.
25 Maurice Sutton 6-11 220 F/C RS Sr. Largo, Md.
32 James Bell 6-6 225 G Jr. Orlando, Fla.
G – Darrun Hilliard
G – Ryan Arcidiacono
G – James Bell
F – JayVaughn Pinkston
F – Mouphtaou Yarou
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