I Don’t Want To Know What Brandan Wright Does In His Free Time

A bit of weirdness here. I recently did an image search for “Brandan Wright”. Can someone please tell me why this photo has any relation whatsoever to the former UNC standout and the 8th overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft?

itsbusinesstime.jpg

It makes absolutely no sense. Although, now that I think of it, “UNC Basketball” and “screwed over by a zebra” are not completely unrelated.

Brandan Wright Is Going To The NBA

This announcement was to be expected. Even though he hasn’t hired an agent, I expect him to stay in the draft. He’s a potential top 5 pick now, and Deon Thompson and Alex Stepheson should have no problem picking up the slack in his absence. Still, it was great having him at UNC, if only for a year.

What I’ll Miss: The pure athletic ability of this guy. He can take over a game physically, or he can use finesse, which he could afford to do alongside Tyler Hansbrough in the paint. He doesn’t have a lot of range, but his shots are nearly unblockable. There are question marks regarding his level of focus, but when he wants to play defense…wow, can he play defense.

Watch this play. There may be only five other players in the NCAA who can make this play, and four of them played in the Final Four this year:

What I Won’t Miss. The free throw shooting. Good lord, his free throw shooting was painful to watch, and I made no secret of that in this space. I also think he needs to play with more consistency, increase his shooting range, and put on about 20 more pounds of muscle.

NBA Draft.net has a more detailed analysis of Brandan Wright’s prospects. If he can make the necessary adjustments to his game, he definitely has the talent and the athleticism to perform well in the NBA. If he doesn’t, all bets are off. I wish him the best of luck, and to an extent I will root for whomever picks him. Unless it’s the Lakers.

Video: Roy Williams Dancing

Every time I’m starting to feel bad about our collapse against Georgetown, I think about this and I cheer up. Seeing UNC’s coaches (and for that matter, their players) try to dance is just hilarious.

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.

UNC vs. Michigan State Live Blog: 2007 NCAA Tournament 2nd Round

Tonight the Tar Heels play Michigan State in the final game of day 3 of the NCAA Tournament. The winner of this game goes to the regional finals in East Rutherford. If the Tar heels can stay focused, dominate the paint and play good perimeter defense, they’ll win. I just hope the Spartans wearing green on St. Patrick’s day doesn’t play a factor.

8:16 pm: 2-2. Marquise Gray scores first for the Spartans, but Terry hits a midrange jumper to tie.

So far this game is going at a fairly slow pace. That favors the Spartans.

8:18 pm: UNC already makes their first substitution, as Green comes in for Terry.

8:19 pm: 4-4. Lawson penetrates inside and makes a great pass to Hansbrough, who gets an easy layup.

8:20 pm: 6-4, UNC. Hansbrough gets another basket inside to give the Heels their first lead of the game coming into the first TV timeout.

8:24 pm: 9-7, UNC. Lawson hits a three, but Neitzel responds.

8:25 pm: 12-9, UNC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOO!!!

8:26 pm: 14-9, UNC. Lawson Misses a shot, but gets his own rebound and hits the putback over three Spartans.

8:27 pm: 17-12, UNC. Hansbrough’s aggressiveness will now be tested, as Wright is out with two quick fouls.

Gray gets three to hard way to cut the lead to two.

8:28 pm: Wow. All the players in for the Heels are bench players (Frasor, Ginyard, Green, Stepheson and Thompson).

8:29 pm: 19-15, UNC. Hansbrough comes in without his mask, and he drains his first shot. He’s 3-for-3.

Neitzel hits a three pointer. I’m shocked that Michigan State has been able to keep up with our pace so far.

8:33 pm: 21-18, UNC. Now this is the Tyler Hansbrough we’ve come to know and love, the kind who can take over a game. He has 8 points in as many minutes.

Wright’s back in with 2 fouls.

8:34 pm: 23-20, UNC. Ginyard makes a great coast to coast play, stealing a pass on the defensive end and an easy layup.

8:35 pm: 26-20, UNC. Hansbrough is a man on a mission. He just got three the hard way, and now has 11 points in as many minutes.

8:37 pm: 26-23, UNC. Raymar Morgan hits another Spartan three to cut the lead in half. The Heels need to do a better job of defending the perimeter.

8:38 pm: Wright and Wes Miller made a great hustle play. Hansbrough made a bad long pass, which the Spartans intercepted. But Wright swiped the ball away, and he rolled it toward the right wing, and Miller dived in for the ball and got fouled. Jay Bilas responds with, um, something weird: “Get on the floor for it!”

8:41 pm: Wright is making some very smart plays, the latest a dunk off his own missed shot to make it 28-23, UNC. The Tar Heels definitely seem to be in this game mentally.

8:42 pm: 28-26, UNC. But our weakness still seems to be perimeter defense. Even Miller can;t stop Neitzel from hitting threes.

8:43 pm: RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!! BRANDAN WRIGHT IS SHOOTING FREE THROOWWWWSS!!!! AHHHHH!!! 29-26, UNC.

8:44 pm: More Bilas weirdness: “Roy Williams can bring in fresh body after fresh body…they signal with a fist”

8:45 pm: 31-26, UNC. Lawson makes another great pass, and Thompson gets a layup.

8:46 pm: 34-26, UNC. Wow, UNC is running the transition really well. Lawson passes to Hansbrough, displaying nice touch by getting the inside basket and the foul while being twisted around. He has 14 points.

8:48 pm: 36-27, UNC. Quentin Thomas is in the game, but Hansbrough continues to be the offensive focal point. He has 16 points in 16 minutes.

For a Dookie, Bilas really seems to be blowing UNC’s horn (pun intended).

8:50 pm: 36-31, UNC. UNC has two straight turnovers that lead to two straight Spartan baskets.

8:51 pm: 36-31, UNC. How is that a foul?!? Terry wasn’t even standing up!

8:54 pm: 36-33, UNC. Drew Neitzel likes it in the back door! The Spartans are now in striking distance.

8:56 pm: UNC has seemed out of sync for the last few minutes. Ellington just missed a free throw, and the Heels have made quite a few mistakes since the 4:30 mark.

8:57 pm: 38-33, UNC. The Heels now have three Spartan forwards in foul trouble.

9:01 pm: TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR!…

9:02 pm: 41-33, UNC. The Heels force a turnover, and Hansbrough gets a nice basket in transition to end the half. UNC leads, 41-33 at hafltime. We seemed to be running the transition game well, and we seemed mentally in it for about 15-16 of the first 20 minutes. Hansbrough had 19 in the first half, and his wearing down the frontcourt and the very fast pace of the game os foing to take a toll on the Spartans on the second half. For UNC to win, however, they must shut down the chances that Michigan State gets in the perimeter. We aren’t putting pressure on Neitzel, and he’s made us pay. The Spartans will need to continue shooting well from the outside, and the need to slow the pace of the game down to a halt.

9:23 pm: Drew Neitzel looks like a small MC Serch.

9:24 pm: 41-38, UNC. Jay, I know you think Tyler Hansbrough is the toughest player in America, but that’s about the fifth time you said that! You’re going to jinx us! The Spartans just scored two straight baskets to start the second half.

9:25 pm: 43-38, UNC. Wright gets an easy basket in transition.

9:26 pm: Gray picks up his third foul.

Suton did a great job of defending Hansbrough on that play, not allowing him to gain position inside.

9:28 pm: The Spartans have decided to try and shut down Hansbrough, and it really seems to be disrupting our offense. More importantly, Michigan State has begun to impose their halfcourt game, which concerns me greatly. It also looks like the Heels may not have made a full mental return to the game yet.

9:30 pm: 43-42, UNC. How did the Spartans keep getting those offensive rebounds? UNC needs to do a better job of boxing out. And shot selection.

9:31 pm: 45-44, UNC. The Spartans gets their first lead of the half after Neitzel stole the ball from Ellington and Suton got the basket inside. Michigan State got away with a travel on that play. But Deon Thompson gets a putback almost immediately as UNC tries to reinsert a fast pace to the game.

9:32 pm: 46-45, MSU. Suton gets another basket inside, slipping away from a screen and behind his defender.

9:36 pm: 46-46. Lawson hits one of two free throws.

9:38 pm: 47-46, UNC. Hansbrough is fouled, and he hits one of two free throws to give UNC the lead back.

9:40 pm: 49-47, MSU. Raymar Morgan gets the basket off the inbound pass and the foul.

Michigan State has imposed the halfcourt game onto this game. UNC needs to speed the game up.

9:41 pm: 50-49, UNC. Hansbrough makes a great play inside, getting the turnaround basket and the foul. Walton now has 4, and Hansbrough has 23 points.

2nd official timeout of the half.

9:47 pm: 52-51, UNC. Lawson manages to break through between several defenders and go inside for an easy layup to take the lead.

9:48 pm: 54-54. Neitzel hits another three, but Hansbrough slams it in to tie. He has 25 points in the game.

less than 10 minutes to go.

9:51 pm: How does Gray get that rebound?

57-54, MSU. Neitzel hits another three. He’s killing us!

9:53 pm: 57-56, MSU. I can’t believe we haven’t forced any of the Spartans to foul out yet. Lawson hits two free throws.

9:55 pm: 59-58, MSU. Hansbrough shoots free throws to give the lead back to the Heels, but Neitzel strikes again.

Less than 8 minutes to go.

9:59 pm: At some point, the fact that we can’t hit our outside shots is going to bite us in the ass. Even if it’s not tonight, it will really cost us at some point.

10:00 pm: 60-59, UNC. Terry’s free throws give the lead back to UNC.

10:01 pm: 62-59, UNC. Wright gets a great rebound, after which my first thought is “where the hell has he been for the last 10 minutes?”. Lawson drive the ball up quickly, and he makes a great dish to Hansbrough, who finishes easily. He now has 27.

10:05 pm: 67-61, UNC. Lawson hits the huge three to put the Heels up six with less than five minutes left. he has 18 points and has played just as well as Psycho T, if not better, especially in the second half.

10:07 pm: Wright picks up an offensive foul, his fourth. Thompson comes in.

10:09 pm: 68-61, UNC, 3:50 left. Our final official timeout.

10:13 pm: Michigan State misses the front end of a 1+1. The Spartans can;t afford to make those kinds of mistakes this late in the game.

10:14 pm: 70-63, UNC, 2:50 left. Terry hits a midrange jumper.

10:15 pm: 73-65, UNC, 2:15 left. It seems that even though he struggles most of the game Terry seems to always make a big shot late in the game.

Neitzel is out of gas; he just airballed a shot attempt.

10:17 pm: 74-65, UNC, 1:34 left. Brandan Wright makes a huge rejection, Hansbrough takes the ball, and he’s fouled. It looks like the Spartans are finally out of gas.

10:20 pm: 75-67, UNC, 1:26 left. Neitzel has 26 points, but is it too little, too late?

10:21 pm: 77-67, UNC, 1:15 left. Suton dribbles the ball off of his foot, it goes out of bounds, and it’s Carolina ball. The Spartans are definitely empty. Izzo players don’t make those kinds of mistakes without serious fatigue.

10:23 pm: 81-67, UNC, :26 left. Terry delivers the exclamation point with a three as the shot clock ran down.

10:25 pm: Now there’s a stat: Michigan State only hit one field goal in the final 8 minutes.

10:27 pm: The game ends, as UNC wins, 81-67. Hansbrough had 33 points and 9 rebounds, and he and Lawson helped to dictate the pace of the game, as the Spartans tired out in spite of Neitzel’s 26. UNC moves on to the Sweet 16. My bracket is rooting for Texas, but my heart is rooting for USC. I really don’t want to see the matchup nightmare that is Kevin Durant.

UNC vs. Eastern Kentucky Live Blog: 2007 NCAA Tournament

Tonight the Tar Heels begin their run toward the Final Four in their first round game against Ohio Valley Conference champion Eastern Kentucky. For a preview of UNC, read my article on what UNC must do to win the title. The only way the Colonels can keep it close is if their guards, Mike Rose and Adam Leonard, hit the three early and often. Then again, perimeter defense has been one of our weaknesses all season. God help me if this is the first 1-16 upset. But I doubt it.

10:07 pm: We in Tar Heel country should dedicate this year’s run to Roy Williams’ sister, who died last night.

Hansbrough has a different mask today, and it seems to be working, as his baseline shot draws first blood. 2-0, UNC.

10:09 pm: 7-0, UNC. Lawson hits a three, and Ellington scores on a putback. They might be running away with this game already.

10:10 pm: 13-3, UNC. Mike Rose finally gives the Colonels their first score, but Hansbrough gets another basket inside, and Lawson gets a four-point play (score, foul, miss, rebound, score again).

10:11 pm: 15-3, UNC. Ellington gets another easy layup. This is getting really ugly, really fast.

10:19 pm: 19-3, UNC. The Heels are playing so well, the game looks like practice so far. Frasor travels, our first mistake of the game.

10:22 pm: 24-6, UNC. Rayshawn Terry, Winston-Salem Native, gets the night;s loudest cheer after hitting a three.

Hansbrough looks so much more comfortable with his new, sleeker mask.

10:24 pm: 26-8, UNC. Mike Rose has all 8 of E. Kentucky’s points in the first 8 minutes.

2nd TV timeout.

10:28 pm: 26-10, UNC. Julian Mascoll finally puts someone other than Mike Rose on the board for the Colonels.

10:30 pm: 34-12, UNC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOOOOO! (riff) He;s having a big game so far tonight. Brandan Wright scores to give the Heels triple the Colonels’ score, 36-12.

10:33 pm: 39-14, UNC. There’s just something creepy about Dick Enberg using the phrase “attracting young players”.

10:41 pm: 41-20, UNC. Break up the Colonels! They scored a whopping sic unanswered points on the Tar Heels! AHHHH!!!

Brandan Wright returns us to sanity.

10:44 pm: 41-26, UNC. Adam Leonard hits an unbelievable shot, and before the first half’s final TV timeout, the Colonels have reduced the lead to 15. Eastern Kentucky is on a 12-2 run.

This is one of UNC’s big remaining problems. They get too comfortable with a lead before it it truly becomes out of reach.

10:48 pm: We now have a reason to want to absolutely obliterate Eastern Kentucky. Apparently their coach, Ken Neubauer, proposed to his wif at midcourt of Cameron Indoor Stadium. Booo…

10:50 pm: 45-33, UNC. The Tar Heels are really not in this game mentally. They’re doing exactly what they shouldn’t do, and the Colonels have cut the lead in half because of it.

10:53 pm: At halftime, UNC leads 47-35. UNC has a double-digit lead at halftime of an NCAA Tournament game. And yet I’m really really mad at how the Tar Heels played. They really mentally left the building after gaining a quick 25 point lead. And as you can plainly see, when we mentally check out, almost any team can compete with us. This game should already be over, but we have allowed the Colonels to hang around. UNC needs to make some serious adjustments in the second half.

11:12 pm: The second half begins.

11:15 pm: 47-39, UNC. No! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! UNC turns the ball over again, Eastern Kentucky slams is home, and the Colonels are within 8.

11:16 pm: 47-42, UNC. Adam Leonard hits another three, and Eastern Kentucky is within five. They’ve outscored us 30-8 in their run.

11:19 pm: 48-44, UNC. Who are you, and what have you done with the real Tar Heels? Did Coach K set you up to this? What kind of sick act has a Tar Heel committed t=for this team to have that kind of karma?

First TV timeout of the second half.

11:23 pm: AAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! MY EYYYESS!!! Brandan Wright is shooting free throws!

11:24 pm: 51-44, UNC. UNC finally gets a basket, off a big block on defense by Wright. The Heels were finally able to run their transition offense.

11:26 pm: 53-44, UNC. The Heels force another turnover, and it leads to another basket, this time by Hansbrough.

The crowd is really into the game now.

11:27 pm: 55-46, UNC. Hansbrough hits another shot to bring the lead back to double digits, but the Colonels immediately respond.

11:31 pm: 57-46, UNC. Lawson delivers a great pass inside to Ginyard, who gets an easy layup and bring the Tar Heel lead back to double digits.

11:36 pm: 60-48, UNC. Hansbrough gets the basket and the foul inside. Darnell Dials was simply overmatched.

11:39 pm: UPDATE: Xavier wins an unbelievable game against BYU, 79-77.

11:40 pm: 67-52, UNC. Terry has suddenly come up big to extend the lead back to 17 before the Colonels stop the run. Terry always seems to be quiet for the first half, but come up big when the Heels need him most.

11:44 pm: 71-52, UNC. Terry scores again, a layup that he made look easy, and UNC has a 19 point lead with 8 minutes left.

I don’t care how much Axe product you use. If you’re ugly, girls will not be attracted to you.

11:48 pm: 75-54, UNC. Brandan Wright hits a noce shot inside to extend the lead to 21. With 5 and a half minutes left, the Colonels are pretty much done at this point.

11:49 pm: 77-56, UNC. I can’t recall the last time UNC fans have had to scream “TAR! HEELS! TAR HEELS!” in a stadium this late at night.

11:51 pm: 81-58, UNC, 3:00 left. Wright puts the exclamation point on this game with a huge dunk to put the Heels up 23.

11:55 pm: Bring in the benchwarmers! We should not have three of our starters still in the game.

11:58 pm: The game ends, as UNC wins 86-65. Overall, UNC played 20 good minutes, 10 great minutes and 10 horrendous minutes of basketball. The Colonels can hold their heads high knowing that they outplayed one of the best teams in college basketball for 10 to 15 minutes, outscoring them 32-9 for a stretch of time.

Meanwhile, I can take solace that I’m the last undefeated player in Just Call Me Juice‘s Bracket Challenge. I was the only player who was 12 for 12, and so far I’m 15 for 15. Pitt is going to beat Wright State, which will give me my first loss. but still. I can say that I was the last undefeated player. Kind of like Clemson. And knowing my history in bracket predictions, my fall may be just as meteoric. But let me cherish this moment. Please.