Know Thy Enemy: Ar-Kansas is Better than Your-Kansas!

On Sunday the Tar Heels play their fist tough game of the tournament, a second round matchup against the talented Arkansas Razorbacks.

Keys to the Game:

Hog Wild Backcourt. Patrick Beverly, Gary Ervin, and Stefan Welsh combine for 27 points and 8 assists per game. Add Sonny Weems as a swingman (who lit up Indiana in the first round) and Danny Green, Marcus Ginyard, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson, and Quentin Thomas will have their hands full.

Battle of Awkward Whiteness. At least three players may be given the task of defending Tyler Hansbrough. One of those players is Stephen Hill, who may have the worst hair of this tournament.

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How Arkansas’ frontcourt defends Hansbrough and Thompson could determine their fate.

Experience: Arkansas has six seniors on their roster. They will not be mentally fazed by the Tar Heels’ talent.

Biggest Weakness: Consistency. Many of their losses are puzzling: Providence, Appalachian State, South Carolina and Georgia, to name a few. The Razorbacks need consistency to keep up with UNC.

Enjoy the game. I’ll be live blogging this game, among others, at Storming the Floor.

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UNC vs. Georgetown Live Blog: NCAA Tournament Elite 8

5:12 pm: Coming right off of Florida’s win over Oregon, coverage starts with the tipoff. Johnathan Wallace gets an easy layup off the backdoor cut, but Hansbrough draws a foul on Roy Hibbert early. 2-2.

5:13 pm: 4-4. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOO!!! (riff)

5:14 pm: 6-6. Hansbrough gets his first basket of the game, but Georgetown gets another easy layup inside.

5:15 pm: 11-8, UNC. Hansbrough and Hibbert each score again inside, and then Brandan Wright gets three the hard way.

Wow. He actually got nothing but net on a free throw. Cherish that sight, you may not see it again.

5:16 pm: 11-11. Summers hits a three for the Hoyas.

UNC is making a lot of substitutions early. I can tell because 1) Deon Thompson and Alex Stepheson are on the court, and 2) I’ve already heard that incessant buzzer about 25 times. God, my ears are going to explode.

5;18 pm: 13-11, UNC. Hansbrough scores from the free throw line. He has 8 points in four minutes.

Our first official timeout comes after 24 points have already been scored, This game is certainly going at UNC’s pace, which is going to run the Hoyas ragged. I’d like to see some better interior defense by the Heels, though.

5:21 pm: 15-11, UNC. “Jeff Green did not travel.” More Billy Packer goodness.

5:23 pm: 16-15, G’Town. Wow. Roy Hibbert is having his way inside offensively. That really concerns me.

Wright is out with 2 fouls.

5:24 pm: 22-15, G’Town. Wallace hits two straight threes.

UNC is taking really bad shots, and the Hoyas are getting all the rebounds. This 11-0, run reminds me a lot of when Virginia Tech pulled away in Blacksburg.

5:25 pm: 22-18, G’Town. Wes Miller stops the run.

5:26 pm: 22-20, G’Town. Just though you would like to know. The current lineup on the floor: Thompson, Stepheson, Danny Green, Wes Miller, and Lawson. Now there’s a bench for ya.

5:27 pm: 24-22, UNC. JT3 is called for a technical foul, and Green hits his free throws.

UNC takes back the lead as Lawson makes a great pass to Thompson, who gets the two handed dunk.

5:28 pm: 26-22, UNC. Who would think that Thompson and Stepheson would give Hibbert just as hard a time perhaps even harder than Wright and Hansbrough? Thompson scores again, and Stepheson is playing very good defense on Hibbert. UNC is now on an 11 point run of their own.

5:31 pm: It’s an absolutely perfect day, 78 degrees and sunny in NC. Too bad this game is being played in New Jersey. They are not worthy!

5:32 pm: 26-24, UNC. Hibbert gets an easy shot inside, but he picks up his second foul midway through the first half.

I just saw Stepheson do a fantastic job of disrupting Georgetown’s backdoor cuts. He’s playing very good defense today.

5:35 pm: 27-24, UNC. Dude, you’ve got to make those free throws! I’m actually concerned about the Heels if the game comes down to free throws.

5:36 pm: 30-26, UNC. Patrick Ewing gets the basket and foul, but he misses the free throw. Terry hits a three on the ensuing possession.

5:38 pm: 33-26, UNC. What strep throat? Terry hits his second straight shot from the bonusphere.

5:39 pm: 35-26, UNC. Georgetown hasn’t been able to do anything offensively in Hibbert’s absence.

Official timeout.

5:43 pm: Hibbert is back in, trying to give the Hoyas momentum.

5:44 pm: 35-28, UNC. Hibbert immediately gets a dunk.

UNC committed a shot clock violation. Believe it or not, that’s their first turnover of the game.

5:45 pm: 37-28, UNC. Ellington does an excellent job of running the transition, and Wright finishes emphatically.

5:46 pm: 40-30, UNC. Wright gets three the hard way again! UNC is doing a good job of running the transition.

5:47 pm: 42-35, UNC. Wright is catching on fire for the Tar Heels but but the Hoyas are a completely different team on offense today when Hibbert is in the game. Either the entire team plays better or the Heels are making mistakes trying to account for Hibbert.

Official timeout.

5:51 pm: 44-35, UNC. Hibbert may not have 3 fouls yet, but Jessie Sapp does.

Whoa. Wright hasn’t missed a free throw yet.

5:52 pm: 44-37, UNC. Summers hits a shot inside.

5:53 pm: 44-39, UNC. How is that not a foul on Hibbert? He got a piece of Terry on that block!

5:54 pm: 46-39, UNC. Terry hits a nice layup across the lane.

5:56 pm: 48-42, UNC. I haven’t heard much from Jeff Green today, but he has 9 points. I didn’t even notice until he hits that basket and the foul.

5:58 pm: 49-44, UNC. Wallace hits a pullup jumper with 10 seconds left in the first half. Stepheson goes to the line as Patrick Ewing picks up his third foul.

6:00 pm: Stepheson hits one of two, and UNC leads 50-44 at halftime. The Heels played well so far in this game, dictating the pace, getting good minutes out of their bench, shooting the ball well, and getting the Georgetown frontcourt in foul trouble. However, to win they will need to clamp down on defense and make a point to draw fouls from Hibbert. They also need bigger contributions out of their guards, Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson.

6:21 pm: 52-44, UNC. The second half begins, and Hansbrough gets a putback to bring the lead to 8. He has 14.

6:22 pm: 54-46, UNC. There it is! There it is! Hibbert’s third, only one minute into the second half. Hansbrough hits two free throws.

6:24 pm: 56-48, UNC. Wayne, you’ve got to hit that shot!

A great pass by Georgetown leads to an easy shot inside.

Hansbrough scores inside again. He’s up to 18.

6:25 pm: 56-51, UNC. Wallace hits another three to cut the lead to 5.

6:26 pm: How does UNC not get the defensive rebound after three chances? Fortunately, Georgetown throws the ball away.

6:27 pm: 59-51, UNC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOO!!! (riff)

6:28 pm: 59-53, UNC. Official timeout.

6:31 pm: 61-56, UNC. UNC needs to clamp down on defense. They’re allowing the Hoyas to shoot 62% from the field.

Sapp’s three reduces the lead to three, but Hansbrough hits a shot inside on the next possession.

6:32 pm: UNC has only missed 3 out of 24 free throws, and two have been by Alex Stepheson.

6:34 pm: 65-56, UNC. You know Georgetown needs Hibbert in the game when Deon Thompson has taken over the post. He has 12 points.

6:37 pm: 67-58, UNC. Terry hits a tough fadeaway jumper.

6:38 pm: 69-62, UNC. UNC shortly gains a double digit lead before Georgetown gets two straight easy baskets by Jeff Green and Patrick Ewing.

11:32 left.

6:43 pm: 71-65, UNC. Jeff Green is playing very well right now.

I don’t get it. We should be up big in this game; we’ve played extremely well, and we’ve done so many things right.

6:44 pm: 73-65, UNC. Deon Thompson continues to score for the Heels. The Hoyas must find it frustrating to play against three post players who can score and four who can make a big impact.

6:47 pm: We’re getting nearly double the rebounds of Georgetown and pretty much dominating the post in this game, but I still think we need to see a better game out of our guards.

7:51 left in the game.

6:52 pm: 75-65, UNC. Ginyard hits his free throws to get a double digit lead for the Heels.

6:53 pm: How is that not UNC’s ball? Lawson got it fair and square!

6:54 pm: Danny, why are you chucking up those quick, ill advised shots?

There’s been about a five minute span has not scored at all. During that same span we have only scored 4 points. We squandered a perfect opportunity to put this game away. Very poor shot selection on our part.

6:56 pm: 75-70, UNC. Suddenly the lead has been cut to five, with shots by Summers and Hibbert.

6:57 pm: 75-72, UNC. NOOOOOOO!!!! Why are we taking such bad shots? The bad shots mean we can’t get good rebounds, which gives all the momentum to Georgetown.

I got so frustrated with that run I almost started throwing stuff across the room.

7:03 pm: 77-72, UNC. Whoa. Just…whoa. Brandan Wright’s two free throws were straight, true, nothing but net.

7:05 pm: 77-76, UNC. NO! NOOOOOOOO!!! Ewing’s putback was WAY too easy.

I have to give credit to Georgetown. Their switch to zone pressure defense has really affected the Tar heels, who have been chucking up a lot of bad shots in the last 6 minutes.

7:07 pm: 79-78, UNC. A huge defensive lapse leads to an easy basket by Sapp.

7:08 pm: 81-78, UNC, 1:40 left. Hansbrough finally hits a tough shot inside. Thats the Tar Heels’ first basket in over eight minutes.

7:09 pm: 1:04 left. Good defense by Wright, a great rebound by Hansbrough, and UNC gets a much needed defensive stop.

7:11 pm: :44 left. How is that a foul on Hansbrough? He was attacked by two guys! That’s bull!

7:12 pm: 81-81, :24 left. NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Johnathan Wallace hits a three, and the game is tied!

Right now, Georgetown is playing to win, while UNC is playing not to lose. That’s been their big mistake in the second half.

7:15 pm: :02 left. Ellington shoots an off balance three at the last second, but it bounces off the rim, and Georgetown rebounds, and will have the ball with 2 seconds left.

7:16 pm: Johnathan Wallace can;t get a shot off, and we’re going to overtime. 81-81, end of regulation.

7:18 pm: 81-81, 4:35 left OT. UNC isn’t rebounding well at all.

7:19 pm: 83-81, G’town, 4:03 left OT. Wallace gets a layup, and Georgetown in the lead.

7:20 pm: 85-81, G’town, 3:30 left OT.

7:22 pm: 87-81, G’town, 2:00 left OT. I think I’m going to need therapy.

The game ends, and Georgetown wins, 96-84 in overtime. Everything that could have gone wrong, did in the final seven minutes and overtime. From 9:55 left in regulation until 10 seconds left in overtime, UNC shot 1-22 from the field, including 0-13 from three. That was one of the big problem: way too many three point attempts. I had expected our bench to wear down the Hoyas, but we were the team hta looked worn down in the end. Georgetown played extremely well, and they are definitely national championship caliber. But we had them, a 10 point lead with seven minutes left. It’s disappointing to see such a monumental collapse.

I’m felling really bad about this game, and at this point I may get beat by a penny in my bracket pool. Simply insane. Again, much credit is due to the Hoyas, but UNC should not have lost this game.

UNC vs. USC Live Blog: 2007 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16

Tonight UNC plays Southern Cal in game 2 of the East Regional semifinals. For a preview of UNC, see What UNC must do to win the National Championship. North Carolina will be looking to play a very fast game, dominate the pain,t and tire out the comparably thin Trojan lineup. USC, coming off a win against Texas, will be relying on Taj Gibson and Abdoulaye N’Diaye to defend the paint, but their undersized lineup will need to rely on good perimeter shooting and clamping down on UNC’s guards. Ironically, that’s exactly how teams have beaten us this year.

10:07 pm: Ginyard is starting in place of Terry, who will see limited action due to strep throat.

10:08 pm: 2-1, USC. The Trojans score first, a turnaround jumper inside.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Jim Nantz and Billy Packer!

10:09 pm: 6-1, USC. Wow. USC is attackin ght einside, and they’re winning. Spreading the ball out forces our forwards outside, which gives USC better opportunities.

10:10 pm: 6-3, USC. Lawson drives inside and gets a layup, the Heels’ first basket of the game.

10:12 pm: 10-5, USC. Hansbrough gets lucky as his 18 foot jumper rims in, but the Trojans get a three on the next possession.

Southern Cal has been quite comfortable playing a transition game.

10:16 pm: 12-5, USC. The Tar Heels seem to be lapsing defensively. Nick Young completely fools the defense.

More importantly, the UNC faithful are very tepid in East Rutherford tonight.

10:17 pm: 12-7, USC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOOO!!! (riff)

10:18 pm: 15-7, USC. Gibson gets the basket on Hansbrough AND the foul. Ugh. Where the hell is Brandan Wright?

10:20 pm: Okay, something is definitely wrong with the Tar Heels right now. They aren’t battling for balls, they just let the Trojans get the long rebound. They need to contest every ball.

10:21 pm: 18-7, USC. This is very,very frustrating. USC hits another three, and they take a double digit lead.

The Trojans have done a good job of keep the ball away for Hansbrough and Wright.

10:22 pm: 18-12, USC. Deon Thompson scores off a putback, and on the next possession hits an open three from a kickout pass inside.

10:24 pm: As we go to an official timeout (less that 11 minutes left), Tyler Hansbrough is already in foul trouble.

10:27 pm: 20-14, USC. Wright finally gets on the board with a nice hook shot.

10:28 pm: 22-14, USC. How can such an undersized team have their way against one of the best frontcourts in the country? This doesn’t make sense.

10:29 pm: 22-18, USC. At least things seem to be clicking for the Heels offensively. Wright gets an easy putback off the transition.

10:30 pm: What is Hansbrough doing on the court with two fouls and this much time left?

10:31 pm: 22-20, USC. Wayne Ellington gets an offensive rebound and hits the baseline jumper to bring the game within two.

10:32 pm: 24-20, USC. Official timeout, 7:54 left in the first half.

10;35 pm: So it isn’t my imagination. USC HAS severely outrebounded the Heels, 16-8.

10:36 pm: 24-22, USC. Wright gets another easy basket inside, but Lawson picks up his second foul. Quentin Thomas comes in.

10:37 pm: 26-24, USC. Brandan Wright has taken over the paint for the Tar Heels.

10:38 pm: 26-26. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT WHOOOO!!!

The Heels have actually done a better job with some bench players in the game.

10:38 pm: 32-28, USC. Gabe Pruitt makes an unbelievable three point play. He steals a pass in midair, drives insides, gets the basket and the foul.

10:40 pm: 34-33, USC. Terry hits two straight shots, the last a three. I think that’s only our second three of the game. That’s a big concern, and yet it’s not.

10:44 pm: 38-33, USC. The Trojans, and Gibson in particular, continue to get easy shots inside. I’m concerned because Roy isn’t exactly a master of mid-game adjustments.

10:45 pm: USC continues to dominate the boards. It looks like the Tar Heels aren;t even trying to box out.

Wow. Tyler Hansbrough has brass ones. He’s taken two charges even though he has two fouls.

10:47 pm: 39-33, USC. Right now, the Heels have inexplicably stooped looking inside and started chucking up outside shots. The Heels seem to still be in a collective mental haze. USC is outhustling them 80% of the time in this game.

10:50 pm: 42-33, USC. Young gets the basket and the foul to put the Trojans up 9.

Bobby Frasor is playing really bad tonight. He can’t get anything done versus the speedy backcourt of Southern Cal.

10:53 pm: Ellington’s buzzer beater rims out, but USC leads 42-33 at halftime. The Trojans have been able to use their small but fast lineup to their advantage, giving the UNC defense fits with guards consistently getting easy shots inside. They’ve outfought UNC for every ball, adn the Heels have shown a lack of mental focus, their biggest weakness from this season. To get back in the game, Lawson will need to stay out of foul trouble, the Heels will need to attack the inside, getting more contributions from Wright and Hansbrough, and they need to contest every Trojan shot, shutting the lane away from USC’s guards. I thought Wright vs. Young would heavily favor Wright, but Nick Young has had a field day of his own on offense. The Heels may need to go with a smaller lineup for short periods of time, with maybe Terry playing Young on defense.

11:15 pm: 44-33, USC. Oh crap. If we lose this game, I will forever hate Nick Young.

In case you’re wondering, the second half has begun.

11;16 pm: 46-33, USC. Damn it, Tyler, you can;t let your man get behind you lie that! he’s going to have a field day.

11:17 pm: 49-33, USC. The Trojans have scored the last 15 points. I am shocked at how badly the Heels have played thus far.

11:18 pm: 49-35, USC. Ellington finally stops the bleeding.

When is Roy going to make a coaching adjustment? Our gameplan doesn’t seem to be any different in the second half.

11:24 pm: 49-37, USC. Wow. Jason Ray, the man in the Rameses costume, was hit by a car today and is in critical condition. Here’s to hoping his full recovery. The game isn’t the same without you, Rameses.

11:25 pm: 51-39, USC. Danny Green throws it away underneath his basket AGAIN, and Pruett scores for the Trjoans AGAIN! This game is starting to get really frustrating. What’s it going to take to snap the Heels out of this?

11;27 pm: 53-45, USC. Terry hits a tough Jumper to bring the lead back to 10. Lawson steals the inbound pass and gets the layup to cut the lead to 8.

11: 28 pm: 57-45, USC. The Trojans hit two straight easy shots, but Gisbon goes to the bench with his fourth foul. He’s their only inside player; I hope that the Heels can finally take advantage of this clear mismatch.

11:29 pm: 57-49, USC. Brandan Wright takes advantage of Gibson’s absence with two straight baskets inside.

Official timeout. 11:10 left in the game. UNC is creeping back into it.

11:36 pm: 59-54, USC. Ginyard goes up for the unbelievable putback and the foul. The Heels are now within five.

11;37 pm: We had a perfect fast break opportunity. How did Wright not finish that?

11:39 pm: 59-56, USC. Wright nearly dunks in the opposing basket trying to catch a rebound, but he gets the nice baseline basket to cut the lead to three. I didn’t expect Hansbrough to struggle this much in the game, but Wright has certainly picked up the slack with 23 points and 9 rebounds. USC has been reeling in Taj Gibson’s absence.

11:42 pm: Gibson is back in with over 8 minutes left. UNC needs to attack them.

11:43 pm: 59-58, USC. Ginyard gets two offensive rebounds, including the putback to bring the Heels within one. The Trojans were too concerned with double teaming Wright, and Ginyard slipped by.

7:11 left in the game.

11:47 pm: 62-59, UNC. The Heels have taken the lead! YYYEEEEAAAAHHH!!!

It looks like our deep bench has finally gotten to the Trojans. They seem tired.

11:48 pm: 64-59, UNC. Brandan Wright cannot be stopped…

…except at the free throw line. 65-59.

11:49 pm: Playing the same type of game against an opponent until they run out of gas is a good strategy for winning. But damn! Watching these kinds of game are going to take 5 years off my life.

11:51 pm: 67-62, UNC. The Trojans finally break n 18-0 run by the Tar Heels. UNC is capable of those kinds of runs all the time, and while I wish they’d play like that earlier, how you finish a game is what matters.

11:53 pm: 69-62, UNC. 3:29 left. USC seems to be completely out of gas.

I can;t believe that we’ve made this comeback without Hansbrough being any factor whatsoever.

11:58 pm: 70-64, UNC, 2:45 left. USC is trying to run the full court trap. Damn it, we did not come all the way back to squander this game with a few turnovers.

12:02 am: Taj Gibson fouls out, but them Tim Floyd gets a technical foul. With 48.5 seconds and UNC getting two free throws and possession, that essentially ends the game. A huge lapse of judgement by Floyd.

12:06 am: The game ends, and UNC wins, 74-64! WHOOOOOOO!!!

This game scared the s— out of me, but after USC ran out of gas in the second half, UNC (in particular Wright and Ginyard) took over, outscoring the Trojans 25-5 to end the game. That is the level that the Heels are capable of playing, but where was that for the first 28 minutes? I have to admit, USC was a much tougher opponent than I had expected.

We play Georgetown next. I actually think we match up better against the Hoyas.

2007 ACC Championship Live Blog: UNC vs. NC State

Today North Carolina plays NC State for the ACC Tournament Championship in the final game of my attempt to live blog the entire ACC Tournament. A win for that Wolfpack would mean an NCAA berth, while a win for the Tar Heels would almost assure them of a #1 seed. We could discuss about NC State’s plan to slow down the game, how UNC needs to have the killer instinct, win the rebounding battle and not turn the ball over. We could talk about how NC State’s subs need to play out of their minds if Atsur and Costner can’t play to the level they’ve been playing this week, and how they they need to shoot above 60%.

But you and I both know that the deciding factors of the game won’t be the players, or even the coaching gameplans. It will come down to the intangibles. Accessories to be exact. If Hansbrough’s mask continues to compromise his play, Brandan Wright will need to have a great game inside, both offensively and defensively. And I heard that Sidney Lowe’s suit was dry cleaned. Don’t you know that dry cleaning robe the suit of its voodoo? Or does it? The answer to that question will determine whether they’ll keep it close.

I heard that Lawson felt something wrong with him today in warmups. The voodoo may still work yet. If NC State wins, that suit will become legendary.

1:06 pm: 3-2, NCSU. Hansbrough draws first blood, but Fells hits a three off a great pass from Atsur.

1:07 pm: 4-3, UNC. Wha? Can it be? It is! IT’S A MIRACLE! BRANDAN WRIGHT HITS BOTH OF HIS FREE THROWS!

Of course, dunks are much easier for him. 6-3, UNC.

1:09 pm: 6-6. Fells hits another three to tie the game.

1:10 pm: 8-6, UNC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOOO!!!

So far the game is clearly going at UNC’s pace. Even if NC Stats keeps it close, they’ll need to bring the pace down to a halt, or else they’ll run out of gas.

1:11 pm: 9-8, NCSU. Brandon Costner hits a three as Brandan Wright fails to follow him to the perimeter. He’s every bit as talented as Wright.

The Wolfpack are now 3 for 4 from beyond the arc. My worst nightmare for this team, poor perimeter defense, may finally be realized today.

1:14 pm: TAR! HEELS TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS!…

1:15 pm: 10-9, UNC. Danny Green comes in for Terry, and he hits a jumper from the free throw line to give UNC the lead.

1:16 pm: 12-11, UNC. Costner hits a tough basket, but Lawson goes coast to coast for a layup seven seconds later.

1:17 pm: 16-12, NCSU. NC State is now 4-for-6 from 3-point range. McCauley then drives in for an easy basket.

I’m really concerned about the Tar Heels. They’ve abandoned the paint, taking low percentage outside shots.

1:18 pm: 18-12, NCSU. Costner gets the basket and the foul. But he misses the free throw.

1:19 pm: 18-15, NCSU. Terry hits a three, but I still think the Heels should keep attacking the middle. They can’t be effective if they’re chucking up shots from the perimeter without even looking inside. They need to pass more.

1:22 pm: 18-17, NCSU. Nearly midway into the first half. Ginyard’s free throws cut the lead to 1.

1:24 pm: 21-17, NCSU. The Wolfpack are much better able to slow down the game with Frasor at point guard. I know he’s been hurt, but he’s been really ineffective this season.

1:25 pm: 21-21. The Heels are able to get two quick baskets in transition, the latest off a turnover by Atsur. The trap defense UNc has been running since the last TV timeout seems to be affecting him.

1:27 pm: 23-21, UNC. UNC forces another turnover, and and get another easy layup to take the lead.

1:28 pm: 25-23, UNC. Costner gets a tough basket inside, but Thompson gets an easy layup less than five seconds later. If they’re able to play at this level for 30-40 minutes, there isn’t anyone who can beat them.

1:32 pm: 27-25, UNC. The Wolfpack defense still doesn’t have an answer for Brandan Wright.

1:35 pm: 30-27, UNC. Atsur hits another three to take the lead back, and MCauley hits an easy one inside to bring the lead to three, as UNC is again chucking shots from outside.

1:37 pm: 32-30, UNC. Ellington hits another three to tie, and Wright gets a dunk off another great feed inside by Lawson. Wright now has 12. Four minutes left in the first half.

1:38 pm: 32-32. McCauley ties the game again, as the UNC defense doesn’t seem to have an answer for him either.

UNC has 5 turnovers in this game, and most of them are unforced. I am really starting to get tired this team mentally fazing in and out of games. This team is capable of so much better than they’re playing.

1:42 pm: 34-32, UNC. Danny Green hits another shot in the lane, but NC State is still very much able to slow down the pace of the game when Frasor is at point guard.

1:43 pm: 40-32, UNC. I spoke too soon. Wes Miller hits two straight three in transition to extend the lead to 8. The Wolfpack must think it’s unfair that the guy to help the Heels breakaway is their 11th man.

1:46 pm: Brandan Wright scores easily again to cap UNC’s 15-4 run to end the first half. UNC leads, 42-34 at halftime. It looks like the Wolfpack are finally running on fumes at the end of the half, but UNC has kept them in the game in part because of their unforced errors. Still, the Heels are in very good position to win the game if they continue to attack the rim and keep a fast pace of the game. If they do that, eventually NC State will reach their breaking point. For NC State tp win, they’ll need to show a second wind, Atsur will need to be able to slow the game pace down to a screeching halt, and they will need to force UNC into mental mistakes.

Then again, maybe Sidney Lowe should have thought of that before getting his suit dry cleaned.

2:06 pm: 46-34, UNC. The second half begins. Lawson hits two free throws to bring the lead to double digits, and Ellington steals the ball and gets an easy layup in transition. The Wolfpack can’t afford to get far behind.

2:07 pm: 50-36, UNC. Lawson hits his first two shots of the game a long jumper and a great reverse layup. The UNC guards are playing really well to start the second half. NC State seems flat-footed so far.

2:11 pm: 50-38, UNC. Gavin Grant provides the Wolfpack their first field goal of the second half, three minutes in.

2;12 pm: 52-40, UNC. NC State forces a turnover, and McCauley gets a tough basket inside to bring the lead to 10, but Ellington drives inside for a floater almost immediately after. They can’t afford to let the Tar Heels continue at this fast pace.

2:16 pm: 54-40, UNC. Deon Thompson scores for the Tar Heels.

McCauley gets poked in the eye. If you;re keeping track, that’s three NC State players who are playing injured (Atsur, Costner).

UPDATE: Northwestern La. State University is trying to get back into the tourney. But Texas A&M, Corpus Christi, and their ridiculously bad color combination, are leading 11-5. NW St. isn;t the same without that guy with the crazy afro.

2:19 pm: 56-43, UNC. Costner hits a three, but with 13 minutes left the Pack are looking really tired. They’ll be zombies by the end of the game, win or lose.

2:22 pm: 56-47, UNC. Suddenly, the lead is back to single digits. and Roy does the worst possible thing for effective strategy against a tired team: he puts in the conservative Bobby Frasor at point guard. Right now the Heels need to run the Pack into the ground, and Bobby Frasor wonlt be able to do that. If Lawson was headed to the bench, I would out Quentin Thomas at point guard. Maybe Roy thought Q would make a few unforced errors to help bring NC State back, but I think leaving the Wolfpack completely out of gas is most important at this point.

2:27 pm: 58-48, UNC. Brandan Wright comes back off the bench, and he immediately ends the Heels’ drought to bring the lead back to 10.

2:29 pm: 64-52, UNC. NC State is getting by on offensive rebounds, but Hansbrough finally gets a basket inside and the foul to bring the lead to 12.

2:31 pm: 64-56, UNC. The Heels’ unforced errors continue to keep NC State in this game, as Costner takes advantage off of a Frasor turnover. Eight and a half minutes to go.

2:33 pm: 66-58, UNC. The Heels finally bring Lawson back into the game.

2:35 pm: Even if we win today, we may not get the #1 seed, because the Selection Committee is going to see that we clearly allowed inferior opponents stay within striking distance of winning a game because of our mistakes or because of simply not having our heads in the game. Therefore they’re going to give us a tough road to the championship, almost to say, “You think you’re the best? Then best the best…5 times.”

Believe it or not, I’m more afraid of an inferior opponent than a top opponent, simply because of our mental state. 68-60, UNC, 7 minutes left.

2:40 pm: 68-62, UNC, 6:30 left. Is it possible for someone to dunk off the backboard? Because I think Courtney Fells just did that.

2:41 pm: 68-65, UNC, 6:00 left. UNC shoots another low percentage outside shot, NC State rebounds, and Gavin Grant gets the tough jumper in the lane AND the foul. The lead has been cut to three.

2:42 pm: 70-67, UNC, 5:30 left. The only reason UNC is still leading is because Hansbrough is 9 of 9 from the free throw line. He travels, and now the Wolfpack have a chance to tie.

2:43 pm: 75-69, UNC, 4:25 left. Fells scores again to cut the lead to one, but suddenly and unexpectedly, Rayshwan Terry comes out of whatever slumber he’s been in for the first 35 minutes and hits two tough shots, the first a baseline jumper and the second a driving layup inside and the foul. It’s good to have you back, Rayshawn, but where the hell have you been?!?

2:46 pm: 75-72, UNC, 4:00 left. Gran t misses his second free throw, but UNC fails to box out, and McCauley gets an easy basket to cut the lead to 3.

Roy, that blazer doesn’t have any mojo. It’s only blue-ish.

2:51 pm: 78-75, UNC, 3:15 left. Terry hits a three, but Costner drives inside, gets the basket, and gives Hansbrough his fourth foul. I cannot point to any good reason why the Wolfpack still have this much energy.

2:53 pm: 1:56 left. Suddenly Wright is missing point blank shots. This must be Sidney’s voodoo.

2:55 pm: 1:28 left. A sign in the stands said: “Beating Carolina: So Easy, A Caveman Can Do It.” Unfortunately, I might not disagree. Assuming that caveman is an experienced, cunning and athletic point guard.

2:56 pm: 80-75, UNC, 1:10 left. Ellington hits his free throws, and Ginyard comes in for defense.

2:58 pm: 82-75, UNC, :50 left. One of the things UNC has done extremely well: they haven’t missed a free throw shot yet.

2:59 pm: 82-78, UNC, :42 left. Costner converts the old-fashioned three, but is it too little, too late?

3:02 pm: 84-78, UNC, :42 left. TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR!…

3:03 pm: 84-80, UNC, :31 left. McCauley hits a quick shot, and the Wolfpack are back within 4. UNC burns a timeout because they can;t inbound it.

3:04 pm: 85-80, UNC, :15 left. Lawson misses his first free throw, but makes the second. McCauley misses his hot, UNC rebound, Terry is fould and this game is bout over if he can make his free throws.

3:06 pm: Terry makes his free throws, NC State misses their shot, and Lawson finishes the game with a dunk. UNC wins the ACC Tournament, 89-80, over NC State! YES! YES! YEEEAAAHHHH!!! UNC WINS THE ACC CHAMPIONSHIP!!!

You have to give a lot of credit to the NC State Wolfpack. They played out of their minds today. I don’t know how they kept their energy level throughout the game. Brandon Costner is certainly the Tournament’s most outstanding player. UNC did not play their best game, but they did enough down the stretch to win. In particular, Rayshawn Terry came up big late in the game, being the focal point of their offense and shutting down Gavin Grant on defense. Tyler Hansbrough scored 15 points in spite of only two made field goals,  as he made all 11 of his free throws.

Again, I must emphasize the this Tar Heel team struggles when they don’t have the mental focus, but when they do, there may not be a better or deeper team in the country. The Tar Heels did just enough to win today, and now they can enjoy being the ACC champions.  Now we’ll see later today what kind of draw they’ll get in the tournament.

And so ends the ACC Tournament. I had a lot of fun covering the whole event, and I’m definitely going to do it again next year. Again, many thanks to the Extrapolater for his help. I leave you with a new phrase that Cliff Ellis has for a three point shot: “From the Bonusphere.” He’s my new favorite analyst.

2007 ACC Tournament: UNC vs. Florida State Live Blog

I’m still recovering from yesterday’s slate of four games. I was watching the double overtime game between Wake and Georgia Tech until about 1 am. Frankly I’m trying to enter a fully alert state, and now I have to get pumped to cover the first tournament game featuring my alma mater, in game five of my attempt to post a live blog of every game of the ACC Tournament. Actually, this is only my fourth live blog, as the Extrapolater so kindly lent his blogging services for the late game. He will be doing so again today, as the University of Virginia is his allegiance.

For a preview of each team, see the ACC Tournament Preview, and to see how FSU did yesterday, see the FSU-Clemson Live Blog.

Florida State is here not so much because they beat Clemson yesterday so much as Clemson gave the game away. While that bodes well on paper for the Seminoles’ tournament chances, the committee may not be as impressed. I think they should be in by virtue of Al Thornton alone, but they will need to play a great game, even if in a losing effort, in order to feel confident about a spot in the field.

With UCLA’s unexpected loss on Thursday, UNC could very well get a #1 seed with a deep run in the ACC tournament. Their trek to the finals can either be relatively easy or hell on earth. Both Florida State and Boston College are talented teams, but they don’t match up well against the Tar Heels, BC because their bench isn’t as deep and they thus like a slower game pace, and Florida State because…well, I really don’t know what to expect from Florida State at this point. Brandan Wright and Rayshawn Terry will likely be assigned to Thornton, both of which are somewhat of a mismatch against Thornton’s size, range and quickness. If they’re able to contain him, dominate the post, find a way to play Quentin Thomas for 10 minutes, and most of all have their collective head in the games, the Tar Heels should have too much difficulty today.

I am anxiously awaiting how Tyler Hansbrough will play with a mask on. I think he’ll go ballistic and get 30 points and 20 rebounds today.

12:07 pm: This is the ACC Tournament, right? So why are you showing the Yankees Spring Training complex?

12:08 pm: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven; give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespassers, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from Billy Packer; Amen.

12:10 pm: 3-0, UNC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOOO!!! (riff)

12:11 pm: 5-2, UNC. Hansbrough gets his first basket of the game, He doesn’t seem to be fazed much by the mask. And what a horrendous mask it is. I was expecting something more like what Rip Hamilton wore in the NBA Finals.

12:12 pm: 7-2, UNC. If the Seminoles were smart, they would foul Brendan Wright and force him to get his points on the free throw line.

12:13 pm: 9-4, UNC. The Tar Heels are playing aggressively. They definitely seem to have the right mindset so far.

The Phantom of the Opera goes to the bench.

12:15 pm: 11-4, UNC. Every time Florida State forces a turnover, UNC has stolen it right back. I’ve been shocked at how well Ellington and Lawson have played so far. This is the first time I’ve seen Wayne play such great defense. Where was this all season?

12:21 pm: 11-6, UNC. Wow. Al Thornton just made Rayshawn Terry look really, really bad.

12:24 pm: 13-6, UNC. Terry hits a nice midrange jumpshot, but it looks like the offense is shying away from Hansbrough right now.

12:26 pm: 13-10, UNC. The Tar Heels are still playing sloppier than I’d like, especially with Frasor on the floor. Is there some sort of disciplinary measure against Quentin Thomas I don’t know about? Because he’s better than Frasor right now, but Bobby is playing a lot more minutes.

12:27 pm: 13-13. Jerel Allen ties the game with a three. I am starting to get concerned.

12:28 pm: 18-13, UNC. Just as I’m about to type that Lawson should come back into the game, Frasor hits a three and makes a great assist to Brandan Wright to give UNC a 5 point lead. The inconsistency is frustrating.

12:32 pm: UNC is winning the rebound battle, but losing the turnover battle.

TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS!

12:33 pm: 21-13, UNC. Lawson hits a three, and FSU’s drought continues.

It was really frustrating that Lawson either will go shot crazy or won’t shoot at all. Against Virginia Tech he threw up 20 shots, only making 6. Against Duke he had a wide open shot for two seconds, and he stood still for an eternity, open, before deciding to pass it to the top of the key. AAAAAGHHH!!!

12:36 pm: 21-17, UNC. A good defensive series by FSU leads to a tough basket by Thornton, but it looks like either UNC’s offense is shying away from the paint or the Seminoles have deiced to lock the paint from any activity whatsoever. Either way, the Tar Heels still must attack the inside. That’s their modus operandi.

12:41 pm: 23-17, UNC. Wright gets a nice basket inside. Florida State is one of the teams we can beat in spite of our bad mindset, mainly because the Seminoles have a bad mindset.

YES! YES! Roy finally listened to me! Quentin Thomas is finally in the game!

12:44 pm: 24-17, UNC. Dis FSU just get the ball off of an official? Is that legal!

12:45 pm: BRANDAN WRIGHT IS SHOOTING FREE THROWS!!! MY EYYEEESSS!!! THEY BURRRRNNN!!!

12:46 pm: 27-17, UNC. Ellington hits another shot, this time a mid-range jumper. Hansbrough isn’t nearly as involved in the game as he should be.

Q picks up his 2nd foul. I thought his defense wasn’t too bad, but they’re going to bench him.

12:48 pm: 30-22, UNC. Danny Green hits a three, but Thornton immediately responds. Florida State needs mor out of him, but he has two fouls. Hansbrough still isn’t has active as I thought he’d be. Is it that UNC is skiddish about giving it to him, or is he still wary of injury?

12:52 pm: 30-24, UNC. After watching him after the second rebound miss, it’s clear to me that Hansbrough’s mask affects the way he plays. He’s certainly not as aggressive, and that’s what makes him effective.

12:55 pm: 30-26, UNC. Florida State has scored the last 7 points, and UNC hasn’t gotten any good looks inside. More importantly, the Heels aren’t making their free throws. Terry, Wright, and Hansbrough are 2-10 from the line.

12:57 pm: This is not good. now the Heels are just taking jumpshots out of desperation. Brandan Wright hasn’t taken over the paint in Psycho T’s absence.

1:00 pm: OOHHHHH!!!! OHHHH!!! What a final 30 seconds. First Thompson draws the offensive foul, then Ellington hits another 20-foot jumper, then Ty Lawson steal the inbound pass, shoots the ball up, and Thompson scores on the putback at the buzzer. UNC leads 36-26 at halftime. What’s even better is that Seminole coach Leonard Hamilton absolutely lost it, and got called for a technical foul. This means that we’ll get two free throws and the ball to start the Second half. Technically, this means that we will have scored between 6 and 9 points between the offensive foul and the next time Florida State gets the ball.

UNC seems to be in control of the game, but they could still do a better job of getting the frontcourt more involved in the offense, as well as cutting down on turnovers, and they have to make their free throws. With the Florida State backcourt in deep trouble (Rich and Swann each have 3 fouls), nothing short of the Al Thornton Show can give FSU a victory at this point.

1:16 pm: Nothing scares the s— out of me more than the thought of Billy Packer in High Definition.

1:18 pm: 40-26, UNC. Just as I said, the Heels make their free throws, the Heels finally attack the inside and give Hansbrough an easy basket, and they’ve scored 8 points before Florida State has a chance to have the ball.

1:19 pm: 44-26, UNC. North Carolina gets two more quick baskets inside, and in 135 seconds of game time Florida State goes from down 4 and with momentum to down 18 about to fall apart.

Now this is what we’ve come to expect from the Tar Heels: the ability to change the momentum so quickly, the opponent has no idea what just happened.

1:23 pm: How can the referees allow that? Echefu was clearly down, the play remained in the paint, and yet the refs did nothing to stop the play until Thornton tripped over his teammate. That is unacceptable. I may be rooting for UNC, but Echefu could have gotten trampled.

1:25 pm: 44-28, UNC. Florida State finally breaks the drought.

Ellington is playing much better defense in this game than he has all season.

1:26 pm: 48-28, UNC. Lawson is having no trouble driving inside and getting layups right now. Florida State is really beginning to let the seas part, especially now that all three of their backcourt players have 3 fouls. (Swann, Rich, Douglas)

1:33 pm: 48-31, UNC. Someone should tell the Tar Heels that taking free throw shooting lessons from Brandan Wright is a bad idea.

1:34 pm: 50-35, UNC. Hansbrough seems to be a lot more comfortable with the mask in the second half.

Jerel Allen hits another three. I think he’s their only player in double figures.

1:36 pm: 52-40, UNC. Just as it looks like the Seminoles were creeping back into this game, Thornton goes out with foul trouble, Allen misses a layup, UNC goes on the fast break, and Terry makes a huge dunk that just took the air out of the FSU fans.

1:42 pm: 54-40, UNC. I had to step away from the computer for a few minutes. What did I miss?

Hmmmm…not much, apparently.

1:43 pm: 57-40, UNC. Who are you, and what have you done with the real Rayshawn Terry?

No sooner does Thornton come back in the game than he commits his fourth foul.

Q is back in the game WHOOO!!!

1:46 pm: 59-40, UNC. Q did it again! He did it again, another alley-oop to Brandan Wright. They make it look easy. But notice that he only does that with Wright and his long arms. With any other player, the ball sails out of bounds and Thomas doesn’t see the court for the rest of the tournament.

1:51 pm: 59-43, UNC. Only 22 of Florida State’s 59 points are in the paint. At this stage the Heels should usually have 35-40.

1:52 pm: Al Thornton just fouled out with 12 points. Show some respect.

I can think of few things less respectful to Al Thornton than making him watch Brandan Wright shoot free throws. I wouldn’t wish that even on a Duke fan.

1:55 pm: 63-48, UNC. I really didn’t expect Hansbrough to be affected so much by the mask. He has not made good decisions in this game at all.

You have to give credit of Florida State. They haven’t quit after Thornton fouled out.

1:56 pm: 66-49, UNC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOOO!!! (riff) He’s our best player today. Although if one of our shooting guards is our best player, usually that means our frontcourt isn’t playing well.

1:57 pm: 66-52, UNC. Uche Echefu is a lot like Thornton. He’s not as fast, but his range is just as good.

1:57 pm: 68-54, UNC. Ironically, it’s our guards, Lawson, Ellington and Ginyard, who are finally putting this game away.

I feel bad for Florida State. I hope this game doesn’t cost them an invitation to the NCAA tournament, because with Thornton and the right mindset, they can do some damage.

2:08 pm: 70-56, UNC, 2:00 left. Hasnbrough fouls out. He’s had a really disappointing game. It’s possible that this may be due to conditioning, if Hansbrough missed practice time because of his injury. He certainly didn’t look like himself today.

2:11 pm: 72-56, UNC. Dewey Burke is in the game. This game is over.

Seriously, Billy? Special meal? Do your research! We get BISCUITS after UNC scores 100 points.

2:13 pm: The game is over. UNC wins, 73-58. I can’t say that I’m especially pleased with the result today. There were a lot of things that we did right. We played great defense, Ellington is becoming a complete player, and it appears that we can survive with a more balanced attack. Still, I am shocked at how ineffective Tyler Hansbrough was in this game. Either the injury or the mask has really affected his on-court attitude. But more importantly, we seemed to let a team hang around when we were perfectly capable of putting the game away quickly and easily. A better team will take advantage of that and take that kind of game away from us. Still, even with a bad mindset, we can still win the ACC tournament depending on our draw. But to make it to the final four, the Heels will need to show the killer instinct, the ability to press their foot on the throat of their opponent and not let up.

Now to see who our semifinal opponent will be. I’ll be at Digital Headbutt to live blog ACC Tournament Game #6, BC vs. Miami.