UNC vs. Louisville: Elite 8 Preview

 Tonight UNC faces Louisville in the East Regional Final (9:05 pm, CBS). Both of these teams like to run, so this game should be fun.

Louisville’s strengths: Louisville distributes the ball very well. Four players average double digit points, and eight average more than six points per game. UNC has depth, but Louisville is more than able to match it. In particular, Teraance Williams, a big yet speedy player, could be a  nightmare of a matchup against UNC’s defense. On defense, Louisville has been able to contain the best scorers of each they’ve faced in the tournament so far.

Louisville’s weaknesses: They’re the only team left in this tournament without a true point guard. Jerry Smith fits the height profile, but he’s kind of awkward at the point. If Ty Lawson can take advantage of this matchup, it could be a long day for the Cardinals. The guards are also susceptible to foul trouble.

What UNC needs to do to win the game: Like in the Washington State game, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green need to get incorporated into the offense early, and the Heels need to play solid defense and outrun their opponent. Unlike the Washington State game, Hansbrough cannot be outplayed by David Padgett for the first 25 minutes.

Prediction: UNC will almost surely get their first close game of the tournament. These obliterations, as much as we would like them, cannot be expected to continue. However, I expect the Heels to get a close win in this game.

What The UNC Men’s Team Must Do to Win the 2008 NCAA Tournament

Merry Basketball Christmas to all this Good Friday. I would be in a much more celebratory mood today had Belmont performed the upset of upsets over Duke. Give credit to Gerald Henderson, he wouldn’t let the Blue Devils lose that game. But I digress.

Last year’s North Carolina team was a testament to the importance of experience. The Heels of 2006-2007 was perhaps the deepest, most talented squad ever to grace Chapel Hill with its presence. Just look at this lineup:

F-Tyler Hansbrough, Sophomore

F-Brandan Wright, Freshman

F-Deon Thompson, Freshman

F-Alex Stepheson, Freshman

F-Rayshawn Terry, Senior

G/F-Danny Green, Sophomore

G/F-Marcus Ginyard, Sophomore

G-Wayne Ellington, Freshman

G-Wes Miller, Senior

G-Ty Lawson, Freshman

G-Bobby Frasor, Sophomore

G-Quentin Thomas, Junior

And that’s just the regular rotation. Nobody played more than 30 minutes a game, everyone had fresh legs, and when their heads were in the game they could run just about any college team in America into the ground and out of the building. Every one of these twelve players would be either starters or important bench players at most other schools. In Chapel Hill, they were some kind of Baby Blue Voltron.

Alas, therein lay their weakness. Nine of the 12 players in the regular rotation were underclassmen, Q might as well have been an underclassmen, and only Miller and Terry had any kind of starting experience, and they were 5th and 8th options in our offense, respectively.  This inexperience led them to lose quite a few games they had no business losing, and they squandered a few close leads. The most glaring example was the Georgetown game, where they went the final seven or eight minutes without scoring a field goal. On defense, they allowed the Hoyas to shoot over 70% from the field in that same span. Georgetown went on to lose in overtime, and I may have overreacted a bit. I’m pretty sure I scared my non-fan neighbors by screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” to the television at the top of my lungs (I had made the mistake of leaving my windows open that day; it was 68 degrees, get off my case).

I’m sorry, where was I? Oh yes, this year’s tournament. So how do we avoid…that?

Win close games. This characteristic of a team tends to come with experience. Carolina is a much more experienced and focused team this year, if a bit more shorthanded. With graduation (Terry and Miller), NBA eligibility (Wright), injury (Frasor) and in lieu of incoming freshmen, our rotation is now 8-deep (with a bit of Will Graves and Mike Copeland peppered in). The backcourt is much more mature, and it shows. The close losses of last year have turned into close victories, as UNC’s players kept focus and clamped down on their opponent when they absolutely needed. Don’t expect a Georgetown-like late collapse this year. If anything, expect the implosion to happen early. Which reminds me…

Have your head in the game for all 40 minutes. If the Heels ever let a game mentally get away from them, it’s usually in the early going. Maryland jumped out to a double-digit first half lead, and the Heels never quite got into their rhythm, leading to their only loss of the season with Lawson in the lineup. Against Clemson (twice) and Georgia Tech the Heels let their opponents get ahead with poor execution before taking the game in the final seconds. And I don’t need to tell you what happened in Chestnut Hill. The Heels will keep it close no matter who they’re playing; if they stay focused for 40 minutes, they should be able to win all of their games.

Tyler Hansbrough must get to the line. That may sound like an easy concept, as he already holds the UNC and ACC career records for free throw attempts, and free throw shhoting usually accounts for about a third of his offense. Against Duke on March 8th, however, Duke managed to go the entire game wothout putting Hansbrough on the line once. You can bet that every prospective Carolina opponent will be poring over that game to try to reduce his trips to the stripes, and take 6-8 points out of UNC’s offensive production.

The perimeter shooting cannot go cold. In Carolina’s loss to Duke, Danny Green and Wayne Ellington were a combined 4-24 shooting, including 1-11 from three. In big games down the stretch, Roy needs to be able to count on them for about 20-25 points.

Point guard play. We’re still not 100% sure that Ty Lawson’s ankle is completely healed. Q has really stepped up for the Heels both in Lawson’s absence and coming off the bench when he came back. Q will need to continue that into the tournament.

Congratulations to the Tar Heels for their great season so far, and best of luck to them staring tonight against Mount St. Mary’s. Billy Packer following our every move aside, it’s going to be a fun ride.

(apologies for the layoff. Life got in the way during the ACC Tournament, but THM back just in time.) 

Of All The Scheyerfaces In the World

I like this one the most.

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Carolina…outright ACC champs.

Photo: Gary Broome/AP (if the huge AP logo in the middle hadn’t already tipped you off)

An (Ir)rational Assessment of That UNC-Duke Loss

Perhaps I can be rational about the result of this game at some point. But not yet.

First things first, let’s get this out of the way: Quentin Thomas did not lose this game. It may have been a completely different offense without Lawson on the floor, there were several stretches in which he struggled. However, there were many other points of failure points in that game, any of which could have won the game had they been corrected.

For example: Wayne Ellington and Danny Green combined to shoot 2 for 153. The statisticians began to feel sorry for them and stopped tracking their misses, only writing down “2-24”. True story. Below, a visual representation of Wayne and Danny’s shooting nights, respectively.

 

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It was expected that without Lawson on the floor, Carolina could not play their transition game. When forced into a halfcourt team against a halfcourt press, running effective screens becomes crucial. I did not see the Heels run effective screens against Duke, which I think led to a lot of turnovers and low-percentage shots.

Deon Thompson played like a beast for the first five minutes of the game. Then he seemed to become unfocused and devolved into the human fouling machine, fouling out after just 18 minutes. For lack of a better expression, he was the black Shavlik Randolph.

Duke is very effective in playing with the human psyche. When you see a Duke player driving he lane. a defender’s first instinct is always to help out. This plays right into their game, as this leaves plenty of Blue Devils open for threes. Coach K has been using this strategy for years, yet few teams are ever disciplined enough to override their instincts and and defend the perimeter no matter what happens inside. Carolina was no exception on Wednesday night. Credit is due to Duke for running a system so well, but Carolina needs to get better on defense.

This bears repeating: when Marcus Ginyard and Quentin Thomas account for 1/3rd of your offense, you’re in trouble.

There is absolutely no need to panic about the result of this game. Remember this: Duke played perhaps their best game all year, and Carolina obviously played a bad game, severely shorthanded at basketball most crucial position…and yet it was a two possession game after 39 minutes and 5 seconds. I don’t know what that says about Duke, but it shows that, with Lawson in the lineup, this team is still a national championship contender. Unless, of course, we lose to Clemson on Sunday. I would hate for this to be the team that ended the streak.

And finally: I don’t care what you think, this is funny.

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The #1 Team in the Nation is Playing the Only Sub-.500 Team in the ACC. I’m Not Going to Pay Much Attention to This GamHOOOOOO LEEEEEEEE CRAAAAAAAAAAP

That may have been the same attitude that Carolina had for the first 20 minutes of the game. No one expected the 7-8 Yellow Jackets to play as well as they did last night. A few notes:

  • Georgia Tech is definitely not the worst team in the ACC. They have good athletes, especially in the paint, who can keep the team in most games if no one gets into foul trouble. They have the ability to make crisp passes and create wide open shots possession after possession. Their post players, for most of this game, outhustled the Tar Heels to the ball consistently. It is possible, even probable, that Georgia Tech has been underachieving up to this point, and it has taken the ACC season to give them the impetus to put it all together.
  • This game has one main theme in common with Carolina’s other near-loss at Clemson. Both the Yellow Jackets and the Tigers chose to run a fast paced game alongside us, and managed to keep up for the entire game. This could be a big problem looming for the Tar Heels in the tournament. Carolina would almost certainly have to play a very good fast-paced team to get to the championship and as great a coach as Roy Williams is, one of his weaknesses is making mid-game adjustments.
  • When all else was equal for the first 39 and a half minutes of the game, Danny Green almost single-handedly won the final 30 seconds. First, after Carolina played some good defense, Green grabbed the rebound of a Georgia Tech shot and drew a foul with 22 seconds left. Then, after making one of two free throws, Georgia Tech had the ball with a chance to win. They had a shot from 6 feet to win, but Green and Hansbrough were there to make the block. After the Jackets throw up another shot, who’s there to make the final rebound? Danny Green. A Yellow Jackets swats the ball out of bounds, Carolina has the ball with 0.5 second left, and Carolina survives.
  • Like in the Clemson game, Hansbrough was turned into a non-factor for most of the second half outside of the free throw line. Unlike the Clemson game, so was Wayne Ellington (7 points for the game).
  • Ty Lawson: 5 assists and 4 turnovers in 33 minutes. Quentin Thomas: 2 assists and 0 turnovers in 7 minutes. Just sayin’.

The most important lesson in this game, as always: no one can take the result of an ACC game for granted. Not that I’m overly concerned about Saturday’s game against Maryland.

UNC vs. Ohio St. Live Blog: Big Ten-ACC Challenge

Tonight, the Tar Heels play the first of two true road tests this week, as they face the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus tonight as part of the annual Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Obviously, this isn’t the same Buckeyes team who played in the Final Four last year (most notably without Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Jr., Daequan Cook, and Ron Lewis), and whom UNC beat 98-89 last year in Chapel Hill; however, they bring some star freshmen players such as center Kosta Koufos, and bring back talented upperclassmen like point guard Jamar Butler and forward Othello Hunter. Against a inconsistent Tar Heels squad, Carolina needs to be on upset alert tonight.

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9:34 pm: 13-13. Sorry…some tchnical difficulties at the worst possible time. But we’re up and running.

Ellington is left open for a three to give UNC a 16-13 lead.

9:36 pm: 18-13, UNC. Deon Thompson gets an easy shot inside, forcing Ohio State to take a timeout. After UNC started slow, they have outscored the Buckeyes 12-4.

9:38 pm: Michigan State clobbered NC State tonight. Either the Spartans are scary good this year, or NC State was a bit overhyped this year. I think this may be an aberration, but it certainly looks like the Wolfpack aren’t as effective a team without Engin Atsur.

9:41 pm: Hansbrough is struggling on offense to start the game. The Buckeyes have done a good job of keeping him in check.

9:42 pm: 18-15, UNC. After a Butler layup, Koufos get two straight blocks on UNC shots, the second one on Hansbrough.

9:43 pm: 18-17, UNC. How is Othello Hunter left that open inside?

9:44 pm: 21-20, UNC. Ellington hits the three, but the Buckeyes respond immediately.

9:45 pm: 23-21, OSU. Diebler hits a three from what looked like 27 feet out. A huge momentum swing, as the Buckeyes take back the lead.

9:51 pm: 27-23, UNC. Koufos spent time on the bench, and the Heels took advantage. Ellington hits a floater in the lane to take the lead, and then Hansbrough dunks over Hunter to give UNC a four point lead.

9:53 pm: 27-26, UNC. Diebler hits another open three. He’s caught fire tonight.

9:54 pm: Butler blows by Ellington, and he gets the layup and the foul. 29-27, OSU.

9:55 pm: A great pass to hansbrough, who finishes with authority. 29-29.

9:56 pm: Insane. Diebler starts 2-24 from 3 to start the season, and he decides to end his slump against us. his buzzer-beater off the glass gives Ohio State a 32-29 lead at halftime. UNC has not been running at their normally fast pace, and they’ve een taking bad shots. No Ty Lawson at point guard always hurts, but no one outside of Hansbrough and Ellington is getting much of anything done on offense. To win in the second half, Someone else needs to come up big on offense, the Heels need to improve their rebounding, and someone has to guard Diebler at all times.

10:13 pm: The second half starts, as Ohio State’s defense continues to confuse the Tar Heels.

10:14 pm: Ginyard hits a floater in the paint, but Jamar Butler hits a three on the other end.

10:15 pm: Where is Quentin Thomas? In the absence of Lawson, He’s much better at running the transition than Frasor.

10:16 pm: Ellington falls hard on the floor, and he’s shaken up.

The good about the Ohio State Student section: their unique way of distracting the free throw shooter.

The bad about the Ohio State student section: their chants. “YOU-CAN’T DO-THAT!” clap-clap-clapclapclap…

10:19 pm: Hansbrough ties the game at 35 with a three point play.

10:19 pm: Koufos hits his first shot of the game to take a 39-37 lead, but Ginyard ties the game 10 seconds later.

The Buckeyes still aren’t allowing the Tar heels to play their transition game.

10:23 pm: What a steal by Ellington, who gets it to Q, who finds Ginyard for the layup and the foul. See? Quentin Thomas enters the game, and the pace picks up immediately.

10:24 pm: Othello Hunter with a big block on Danny Green. 42-39, UNC.

10:26 pm: What was Green thinking throwing that pass?

Carolina has some serious issues on the defensive boards. They just gave Ohio State four different opportunities in the paint, and now Hunter is at the line.

10:28 pm: Deon Thompson gets a huge dunk on the offensive rebound. Where has he been all game?

Ellington hits a three pointer off the gall on the next possession to make it 47-40, UNC.

10:31 pm: Thompson gets another offensive rebound, and he gets a shot off of the glass. UNC now has a 49-40 lead, the biggest margin of the game.

10:35 pm: Thompson hits another one, this time a mid-range jumper. He’s finally come into his own tonight.

10:36 pm: Deon gets another defensive rebound, and then he hits a hook jumper to give UNC a double digit lead. Thompson now has 12 points and 5 rebounds, as the Tar Heels may have figured out this zone.

10;38 pm: Now it’s the Tar heels defense that’ seems to be giving the Buckeyes fits, but it looks like no one on the court outside of Thompson can hit their shots right now.

10:40 pm: Or, maybe not. Deon’s free throws were ugg-lee, and we’re still at 53-42 with less than 8 minutes left.

10:44 pm: Why wasn’t there anyone behind Hansbrough for him to dump the ball and restart the offense.

10:45 pm: Ellington hits a nice jumper on the right side. 55-43, UNC, as absolutely no shots are falling for Ohio State.

10:43 pm: Hansbrough with the tough shot in the middle. He has 13 points and 10 rebounds, and the Heels have a 14 point lead with less than 6 minutes left.

10:47 pm: Ohio State’s drought is broken by–guess who?–Jon Diebler. 57-46, UNC.

10:48 pm: Lighty hits a three, Diebler gets a dunk, and suddenly the Buckeyes are within 6, getting 8 points in 54 seconds, but who cares? I just found out that Roy Williams is a Yankees fan! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

10:49 pm: Thompson stops the bleeding, but Othello Hunter scores on a putback. 59-53, UNC, with 3:52 left. How did the Heels let Ohio State back into this game so quickly.

10:53 pm: The Heels do nothing for 30 seconds, and then Ellington simply drains the three with a guy in his face. 62-53, UNC.

10:54 pm: Uh-oh. Hansbrough missed his last three free throws. Is he out of gas?

10:56 pm: Diebler with the tough dunk, but he lands awkwardly on his elbow. UNC takes advantage on the other end with an easy shot. 64-55, UNC.

10:57 pm: Inside the paint, UNC and OSU have been playing the last few minutes like a football game rather than a basketball game.

10:59 pm: 64-55, UNC, 35 seconds left. After Diebler misses a three, Ellington gets a rebound, and that should about seal this game.

11:01 pm: The game is over, and UNC wins, 66-55. Aside from the quick 10-2 run with about 5-6 minutes left, Ohio State could not get anything done on offense in the second half. The Tar heels dominated the end of the game, outscoring them 28-11 until the Buckeyes run. Ellington and Thompson really stepped up, which they will need to do throughout the season for Carolina to live up to expectations. Overall, this was an important road win for the Tar Heels as they develop throughout the season.

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.