Tar Heels' Advantage
It’s not often the Tar Heels are an underdog in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, but, alas, here they are playing top-seeded Kansas as the upset-minded bunch. That, according to Dexter Strickland, has given UNC more motivation to win. Don’t think it’s hurt the Tar Heels’ confidence, either. When Reggie Bullock was asked what UNC needed to do to beat Kansas, he replied: “I would ask what they have to do to beat us, too. It’s not just about us being able to match up with them.”
Tar Heels' Concern
UNC has played several great defensive teams this season, but Kansas is chief among them. The Jayhawks led the nation in field goal defense and, thanks to Jeff Withey, were third in blocked shots. Marcus Paige said the key is getting into the middle of that defense. “We’re just going to have to attack them,” Paige said. “They pressure the ball as much as they can because they know they have one of the best shot-blockers in the country behind them. We’re going to have to drive at them. We can’t just shoot threes the entire game.”
With the way Villanova dominated the glass on Friday, Kansas provides a nightmarish matchup for UNC. The Jayhawks have a +6.6 rebounding margin for the season and were No. 2 in the Big 12 at rebounding defense. UNC’s full roster, from Paige down to James Michael McAdoo, needs to be active on the boards, because Kansas is the biggest team UNC has played all season. Expect to see even more of the traditional, two-forward Tar Heel lineup on Sunday.
Kansas has endured stretches of poor offensive play throughout this season, and that was evident on Friday when the Jayhawks struggled to put away No. 16 seed Western Kentucky. Freshman guard Ben McLemore is a genuine stud, and he shoots an astonishing 56.7 percent from the field. Bullock will draw the assignment on McLemore. If he can find success limiting McLemore’s productivity, points could become scarce for Kansas, leaving the Jayhawks vulnerable to an upset.
No. Name Ht. Wt. Pos. Yr. Hometown
1 Naadir Tharpe 5-11 170 G So. Worcester, Mass.
2 Rio Adams 6-3 190 G Fr. Seattle, Wash.
3 Andrew White III 6-6 210 G Fr. Chester, Va.
4 Justin Wesley 6-9 220 F RS Jr. Fort Worth, Texas
5 Jeff Withey 7-0 235 C RS Sr. San Diego, Calif.
10 Evan Manning 6-3 170 G Fr. Lawrence, Kan.
11 Tyler Self 6-2 165 G Fr. Lawrence, Kan.
15 Elijah Johnson 6-4 195 G Sr. Las Vegas, Nev.
20 Niko Roberts 5-11 175 G Jr. Huntington, N.Y.
21 Christian Garrett 6-3 185 G RS So. Los Angeles, Calif.
23 Ben McLemore 6-5 195 G RS Fr. St. Louis, Mo.
24 Travis Releford 6-6 210 G RS Sr. Kansas City, Mo.
31 Jamari Taylor 6-8 220 F RS Fr. Chicago, Ill.
33 Landen Lucas 6-10 240 F Fr. Portland, Ore.
34 Perry Ellis 6-8 225 F Fr. Wichita, Kan.
40 Kevin Young 6-8 190 F Sr. Perris, Calif.
G – Elijah Johnson
G – Travis Releford
G – Ben McLemore
F – Kevin Young
C – Jeff Withey