UNC vs. East Carolina: What You Really Need To Know

Forget the stats. Forget the past results. Here are a few facts* that will really decides Butch Davis’ road opener against East Carolina:

  • Since being hired to ECU, Skip Holtz (son of Lou Holtz) has really taken this whole “pirate” thing to a new level. Combine that with a hereditary speech impediment and the only thing he can say these days is “ARRRRRGH!”.

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Yes, that is parrot poo on his shoulder.

 

  • This makes the playbook very confusing; every play is “Arrrrgh.” The only way to tell plays apart in the huddle is by the length of the R. For example, a “Power I triple option right” is “Argh”, while a shotgun wide receiver screen is “Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh.” Expect the UNC defensive line to pick up on that quickly.
  • The ECU defense is anchored by former UNC “mutineers” Khalif Mitchell and Marcus Hands, allowed only one offensive touchdown in their opener at Virginia Tech. Sure, Mitchell may be a talented defensive lineman who could be suiting up for us right now. But can you look me straight in the eye and say that he won’t lose to Marvin Austin in an eating contest? I think not.
  • To guarantee that the refs will keep the game fair, all of Pitt County has banned the sale of burritos for the next 72 hours. That way, neither team will be subjected to this and have a player collapse in the middle of a kick return.
  • Greenville, NC is the BMX capital of the world, where the likes of Dave Mirra and Ryan Nyquist have taken residence. This will become the ultimate home field advantage for the Pirates, who play every second half this season on a Big Air Ramp.
  • By the time we’ve left Greeenville, ECU will look like a hurricane hit the place.**

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Subtropical Storm? C’mon man, why do have to downplay everything?

 

So when Patrick Pinkney slides 70 yards for a touchdown only to break 20 bones in the ensuing celebration, you, the smart fan, will know exactly what’s going on.

*These “facts” haven’t been proved, but they haven’t been disproved, either.

**There’s a pretty good chance that Gabrielle is going to pass through Greenville this weekend. Seriously.

Baseball Regional Day 2 Recap: HEEEELLLLL YEEEEAAAHHHH!!!

That was AWESOME! I’ll tell you about the Tar Heels, but first a recap of Game 1.

Western Carolina 7, Jacksonville 0I can’t say that I couldn’t foresee this happening. Jacksonville was clearly the weakest team in the field, but expected them to at least get some runs in this tournament. With the loss to the Catamounts they are eliminated, having produced 13 hits, 0 runs, and 4 errors. Western Carolina, was led by Steven Strasbaugh on offense (3-5, 1 R, 1 RBI) and by Drew Saberhagen, son of Bret Saberhagen (8 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 5 K). With this win they will play on Sunday in a rematch with ECU for the right to play Carolina in Sunday’s night game. But on to the main event.

North Carolina 11, East Carolina 10This may have been the most exciting baseball game I’ve ever attended in person. East Carolina is a very good team. Whenever it looked like the Tar Heels would have some control over the game, the Pirate offense blasted the door back open. After the Tar Heels struck first blood, ECU scored five runs in the top of the third inning, including a bases clearing double by Stephen Batts, to take a 5-1 lead. The Pirates offense did a very good job at the plate, but the umpire in this game sucked royally. His bad calls went for and against both teams in the game, and there was likely not a single person in the stadium who thought the ump (whose name is Scott Inman) did a good job in this game. Having said that, we got lucky in this game. We scored 4 and 3 runs in the 3rd and 6th innings, respectively, and the Pirates defense had 2 key fielding errors in each.

Still, the offense did enough to give ECU a seemingly safe 10-8 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning and the middle of the order (Horton, Flack, etc.) retired in the 8th. Shane Mathews came in to pitch for reliever Jason Nietz, and Mike Cavasinni came in to pinch hit. Mathews walked the first two batters. Garret Gore then hit a sacrifice bunt, sending Kyle Shelton and Cavasinni to 2nd and 3rd base with one out. With Reid Fronk at-bat, Mathews threw a wild, pitch, allowing Cavasinni to score from third and cut the deficit to one. The crowd in Boshamer stadium roared to a level usually reserved for football and basketball games. Finally, Fronk singled on a grounder up the middle, scoring Shelton, tying the game. Then came the two star UNC freshmen, Tim Fedroff and Dustin Ackley. Fedroff hit a single to bring Fronk to second base, then Ackley’s line drive down the middle scored the winning run, sending the crowd completely insane, cheering nonstop for three solid minutes after Fronk reached home plate.

It was a fantastic game, and I am now officially hooked on college baseball. I will have a more detailed (and definitely more entertaining) recap of this game later in the week.

Tomorrow- Western Carolina and East Carolina face each other again, as the Cats try to avenge blowing a 4 run lead against the Pirates on Friday. The Tar Heels await the winner, who will have to beat UNC twice if they wish to advance into the Super Regionals next week.

UNC vs. Tennessee Live Blog: NCAA Women’s Final Four

Tonight UNC plays Tennessee in game 2 of the Final Four for the right to play Rutgers in the National Championship. The game can come down to who will dominate the paint. Candace Parker is the most talented player in America, but UNC has four players that can make big contributions inside. The Vols will likely need good three point shooting if Parker struggles. Ivory Latta will also need to come up big for the Tar Heels.

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9:10 pm: I may not be a Dook fan, but Trey Wingo, why do you have to make Lindsey Harding relive that moment? No one should have to put up with that.

9:19 pm: Candace Parker’s boyfriend is Dookie Shelden Williams. Boooooo….

Tennessee has played a extremely well, but they haven’t been challenged by a good team in the tournament yet.

9:30 pm: 2-0, Tenn. Parker gets the games first points of the game on the free throw line.

9:32 pm: Neither team has shot the ball well so far. This game is a lot faster than the LSU-Rutgers game. However, it is also decidedly sloppier.

9:35 pm: Latoya Pringle is playing great defense, but she already has two fouls.

9:36 pm: 4-0, Tenn. Parker gets the first field goal of the game, a floater inside. Alex Miller had no chance.

9:40 pm: 5-0, Tenn. I have been shocked by 1) how well both teams have played defense and 2) how bad UNC is shooting. I think both teams have combined for 1 of 20 shooting.

9:41 pm: 5-2, Tenn. Hallelujah!!! Rashanda McCants scores a layup off a great pass by Latta to end the scoring drought of the Tar Heels.

9:46 pm: 7-6, Tenn. The Heels bring the lead down to 1, as Ivory Latta hits a jumper over 5’2″ Shana Bobbitt.

Official Timeout. 11:30 left. Latta has two fouls.

9:49 pm: 8-7, UNC. Latta scores again over Bobbitt, and UNC takes their first lead of the game.

9:51 pm: This game has been really sloppy so far. Give credit to the defense, but when there are more turnovers than points on the board, something’s wrong. Tennessee has just committed their second shot clock violation.

9:54 pm: This is not good. Ivory Latta has 3 fouls, and is forced to sit on the bench. Parker is on the bench with 2. Let’s see if Alex Miller can step up.

9:55 pm: 10-9, UNC. Larkins gives the great pass to Iman McFarland, who scores to give UNC the lead back.

Neither Larkins nor Little have scored yet.

9:56 pm: 12-9, UNC. Little finally gets on the board with a turnaround shot inside.

This game is a lot more physical than I expected. It’s going to take a lot of energy out of both of teams, which benefits Rutgers no matter who wins.

Official timeout. 7:17 left, first half.

9:59 pm: 12-12. How do you allow Sidney Spencer to get such an easy layup? Even worse, how do you commit such a bad foul afterwards?

10:01 pm: 14-12, Tenn. UPDATE: Total points: 26. Total turnovers: 23.

10:02 pm: 16-14, UNC. McCants scores to tie game, and LIttle gives UNC the lead.

10:03 pm: 17-16, Tenn. Shannon Bobbitt hits the three to give the lead back to the Lady Vols.

Both of these teams are spending a lot of energy trying to win this game.

10:06 pm: No matter who wins, you have to commend the effort given by both of these teams. 3:22 left, first half.

Latoya Pringle is playing insane defense right now.

10:10 pm: 18-17, UNC. Larkins hits two free throws to give the lead back to the Heels.

21-17, UNC. Who knew that Rashanda McCants would be our biggest offensive threat? She drains a three to bring the lead to four.

10:11 pm: 21-20, UNC. After being decleated on a Camille Little screen, Bobbitt hits a three from the baseline to cut the lead to 1.

10:12 pm: 22-21, Tenn. Great passing by Tennessee give them a open look inside to give the lead back to the Lady Vols.

UNC continues to turn the ball over. I know it doesn’t concern Sylvia Hatchell, but it really concerns me.

Suddenly Tennessee is getting all the rebounds! What the hell?

10:16 pm: Tennessee commits another shot clock violation near the end. Tennessee leads, 22-21 at halftime. The game was very, very sloppy, but that was in part because of both teams’ defensive hustle. Parker and Latta have both been ineffective in foul trouble. For UNC, they to take advantage of the opportunities that their defense gives them. That means making their inside shots and continuing to dominate the boards. Right C. Vivian Stringer is smiling, because both of these teams are spending a lot of energy trying to beat each other. Which team does that favor? Rutgers!

10:32 pm: Wow. I just looked up that guy from the Orbitz commercials, Wink Martindale, and only now do I find out that’s he’s an actual former game show host. You know, I actually wish I didn’t know that.

10:34 pm: 24-21, Tenn. Anosike hits a shot inside to start the second half. UNC continues to turn the ball over. I think they have 17 now.

10:36 pm: 26-21, Tenn. Candace Parker gets the basket and the foul on Erlana Larkins. A great play by Parker.

But that reminds me: Larkins has yet to hit a field goal in this game. If she doesn’t score, we lose. Simple.

10:39 pm: 27-24, Tenn. Ivory Latta hits a three, only our second of the game, making it a one possession.

10:40 pm: 27-26, Tenn. Larkins hits a tough layup inside, her first basket of the game.

Shannon Bobbit is decleated again on a screen, this time by Latoya Pringle. She may have gotten a concussion. These teams are starting to play this like a football game.

10:42 pm: 28-27, UNC. Little’s turnaround jumper rattles in, and UNC takes the lead back.

10:43 pm: First official timeout of the second half. If UNC wins, Pringle gets the game ball. Her defense has been vital to our staying in the game.

10:46 pm: 31-27, UNC. A great pass by Larkins, and Latta hits another three. The Heels have scored the last 10 points.

10:47 pm: 33-27, UNC. Another empty trip for Tennessee, and another basket for the Tar Heels, this time by Little. The lead is now six.

10:48 pm: 33-29, UNC. What a play by McCants to get the block and keep the ball in bounds! And Shannon Bobbitt feels…rejected!!! Words can hardly describe that insane play.

10:51 pm: 38-29, UNC. YYYYEEEEEAAAHHHH!!! More great defense by the Tar Heels, McCants in particular, leads to two straight easy baskets in transition, and UNC is blowing the doors open on this game, forcing Pat Summitt to take a timeout.

Da-da-da-DAAAA-da! U! da-da-da-da-da-da-DAAAA-da! N! da-da-da-da-da-da-DAAAA-da! C! da-da-da-da-da-da U-N-C!!! GO HEELS GO!!! da-da-da-da-da-da-da-Da! WHOOOOOO!!!!

10:53 pm: 38-31, UNC, 11:34 left. Official timeout. UNC is in control of the game right now, but they’re not out of the woods yet.

10:57 pm: 41-31, UNC. Miller’s three gets the lucky bounce, and UNC has the first double digit lead of the game. Meanwhile, Tennessee has only 9 points in as many minutes.

10:59 pm: 43-32, UNC. McCants has played absolutely lights out in this game. Which is strange, because I think she’s been dogging it for most of the season, not giving her full effort. But Rashanda has absolutely played the game of her life tonight.

11:00 pm: 43-34, UNC. The big blemish for us right now: fouls. Little has four, and Pringle and Latta each have three.

11:01 pm: 46-36, UNC. That’s what you want out of Latta! The drive, the basket, and the foul! WHOOOOOO!!!

11:02 pm: 48-36, UNC. Larkins drives inside against Anosike, and she gets the layup easily.

11:03 pm: 48-40, UNC. 7:13 left. UNC commits two straight turnovers, which lead to two straight baskets by the Vols. I hope the Heels don’t get sloppy with the ball and let their lead get away late.

11:07 pm: UNC commits another turnover, this time a shot clock violation. They can’t afford to come up empty on possessions late.

11:09 pm: I think we’ve lost the momentum we had earlier, as this game has returned to its previous sloppiness. If UNC doesn’t do something, this game could end the same way the men’s game ended against Georgetown.

Pringle picks up her fourth foul. I think God is punishing me for my hubris from about 20 minutes ago.

11:12 pm: 48-42, UNC. Camille Little fouls out on an offensive foul. I’m sorry but that call was bull. Spencer’s feet were moving. With five minutes to go, UNC is losing focus, and this game is feeling eerily like the men’s game against Georgetown.

11:14 pm: 4:35 left. Pringle fouls out as well. with time running out, it will be up to Jessica Breland to play alongside Larkins in the paint from now on.

11:16 pm: 48-46, UNC. Tennessee has scored the last 10 points. UNC hasn’t scored since Larkins hit the layup with 8 minutes left.

Final official timeout.

11:20 pm: 50-46, UNC. 3:43 left. Latta hits two free throws to extend the lead to 4.

11:22 pm: 50-48, UNC, 3:09 left. UNC is forced to take two straight timeouts. We now have only one left. This is not good. We are not executing well at all.

11:24 pm: McCants is hurt after missing a jumpshot. I know that Pringle and Little have fouled out, but we still need to drive inside.

11:26 pm: 50-50, 2:00 left. Anosike scores with a putback of her own miss. Anosike steals the ball on the next possession and Breland is forced to foul.

11:27 pm: 51-50, Tenn, 1:44 left. We still haven’t hit a field goal since the 8:00 mark. Anosikie hits one of two free throws to take the lead.

11:31 pm: 53-50, Tenn, :31 left. The Tar Heels look completely out of gas right now, but it’s hard to win when you commit 29 turnovers.

11:33 pm: 54-50, Tenn, :24.2 left. Latta’s three pointer hits the back iron, and Hornbuckle gets the rebound.

11:37 pm: The game ends, as Tennessee wins, 56-50. The Lady Vols outscore the Heels 20-2 to end the game, as UNC runs completely out of gas. This game ends freakishly the same way as the UNC-Georgetown game. The Tar Heels make a run to put themselves in control of the game midway through the second half. With seven and a half minutes left, the Tar Heels have the game in hand. But in the end, UNC looks completely out of sync, and the opponent gets a second wind out of their #55 center (in this case, Nicky Anosike). The Vols play great defense down the stretch, make all of their free throws, and UNC completely runs out of gas. It’s a shame to see the careers of Ivory Latta and Camille Little end this way; they’re two of the best players ever to don Carolina blue. Latoya Pringle played absolutely shutdown defense, and Rashanda McCants had the game of her life. But UNC was too sloppy the whole game, and they couldn’t buy shot late because, just like the men, they deviated from their inside game. The season was successful as a whole, and UNC gave a great effort even as the game was lipping away. But it is truly sad to see Ivory Latta, the best player in UNC Women’s basketball history, end her career short of a title.

I’ll be live blogging the National Championships on Monday and Tuesday on Digital Headbutt. I am definitely rooting for Rutgers, but I’m torn on the men’s matchup. Do I choose dignity and root for the Gators, or do I choose infamy, watch Ohio State win, and lose in my bracket challenge to a penny? I can;t believe I’m actually thinking about this one.l

UNC Women vs. Purdue Live Blog: NCAA Regional Final

The men may have been eliminated, but the Ladies still have championship aspirations. Tonight the Lady Tar Heels play Purdue for the right to play in the Women’s Final Four in Cleveland. UNC could use some good passing and outside shooting from Ivory Latta, but the real engine of our game is in the middle, with Erlana Larkins, Latoya Pringle, and Camille Little. Purdue is lead by Katie Gearlds and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, who average over 33 combined points per game. The only #2 seed to survive the first weekend (go figure), don’t underestimate the Boilermakers, who are 18-3 in 21 road and neutral games.

So, let’s get it on, ladies! No, not like that. You have a sick, sick mind!

9:07 pm: How could I forget: this is a rematch of last year’s regional semifinal, a 70-68 UNC win.

2-0, Purdue. UNC doesn’t send anyone back on defense, and the pay for it with an easy basket by Lawless. Great passing by Purdue.

9:09 pm: 2-2. Latta misses the layup, but Larkins is there for the outback.

9:10 pm: 5-2, Purdue. UNC nearly forces a steal, but the overpursuit of the ball leaves Gearlds open for three.

The game has had a sloppy start. Both teams have committed unforced errors.

9:11 pm: 7-7. The pace of the game is picking up quickly. Latta hits a three, than Purdue gets a quick basket inside, and Rashanda McCants hits a floater, all in about 30-40 seconds.

9:13 pm: 9-7, UNC. As we hit the first official timeout, Latoya Pringle hits a basket inside for the Heels’ first lead.

9:15 pm: 11-7, UNC. Larkins gets the offensive rebound, the putback and the foul. She misses the free throw, but that’s exactly what UNC needs out of Erlana: the ability to get offensive rebounds and score on putbacks.

9:18 pm: 11-11. I know coach Hatchell doesn’t care about turnovers, but I do. Seeing them turn the ball over so much is really frustrating. But who am I to complain? We’re 33-3 this year.

Jessica Breland and Alex Miller are in the game for UNC.

9:20 pm: 15-11, UNC. Larkins continues to dominate the post.

9:21 pm: 15-14, UNC. Purdue hits another three before the official timeout.

9:25 pm: The Tar Heels look completely out of sync when Miller is playing point in place of Latta. They already have 6 turnovers for the game, and nearly committed a seventh.

9:26 pm: Then again, what was Ivory doing shooting that long three? Our bread and butter is in the post! Even with Latta, she’s best when she drives inside. Maybe she hasn’t been as confident to do so since her injury last year.

9:29 pm: 18-17, Purdue. That’s what I’m talking about. Rashanda McCants drives inside for a layup, but Jody Howell hits a three to give the lead back to the Boilermakers.

9:30 pm: 20-17, Purdue. Hatchell calls a timeout to stop Purdue’s momentum. UNC has not been able to run their gameplan at all in the last 5 minutes.

9:35 pm: 22-17. Purdue. Wait…did I hear that right? Purdue’s point guard is Karl Malone? Wow, they’ve really bent the rules tonight.

The Boilermakers defense has done an excellent job of disrupting UNC’s gameplan. Still, there’s no excuse for Little not having touched the ball yet.

9:36 pm: 22-19, Purdue. Pringle scores inside again.

9:39 pm: 22-21, Purdue. UNC forces another turnover, and Latta finally gets an easy basket inside.

9:40 pm: 23-22, UNC. With 4:22 left in the first half, Camille Little gets her first touch since the opening tip, and she scores easily. Nice passing by the Tar Heels, who take back the lead.

Official timeout.

9:43 pm: CORRECTION: Purdue’s point guard is named FahKara Malone, not Karl Malone.

9:45 pm: 29-22, UNC. The Tar Heels are storming now. After scoring the last 6 points, Pringle makes her first free throw and misses the second, but Larkins gets the rebound and passes to Latta, who hits the open three. UNC forces a turnover on the next possession, and Larkins scores on a putback.

9:47 pm: 33-24, UNC. 25 of UNC’s 33 points are in the paint.

Latta get another layup, but she falls hard on her leg, the one Maryland injured last year. She hasn’t been quite 100% since. I can’t forgive the Terps for that; we would have beaten them with a healthy Latta. She has to go to the locker room.

9:50 pm: North Carolina leads, 35-28 at halftime. UNC finished the half on a 18-6 run. With the exception of that run, Purdue was playing excellent defense, forcing turnovers and taking good shots, but the Heels are dominating the paint. They must continue to attack if they want to beat the Boilermakers. Of course, having Latta back in the second half will be important.

10:07 pm: 37-30, UNC. Damn. Erlana Larkins is fast for a big girl.

10:08 pm: 39-33, UNC. Latta hits a nice midrange jumper in transition, but Purdue responds with a three.

10:09 pm: 41-33, UNC. There it is again! Larkins just blew by everybody, driving in the lane and getting the easy layup. The Purdue forwards can’t keep up with her.

10:10 pm: 41-37, UNC. Gearlds hits two free throws, cutting the lead to four.

10:11 pm: 43-40, UNC. Larkins continues to score inside, but three is greater than two, and Gearlds is stroking it from the bonusphere right now.

10:12 pm: 45-40, UNC. A basket inside by–who else?–Erlana Larkins, bringing the lead back to five.

10:14 pm: Apparently Gail Goestenkors, the Duke head coach, is being interviewed to replace the retiring 900-win coach of Texas, Jody Conradt. I hope it happens. Texas will get a great coach, and Duke will suffer. YEE-AHH!!!

10:16 pm: 47-41, UNC. You have to believe that some of the Purdue players are in foul trouble by now, right?

10:17 pm: 49-41, UNC. Wow. Rashanda McCants is actually playing well tonight. She hit a very nice midrange jumper, and she now has 11.

10:19 pm: 51-43, UNC. Larkins continues to dominate the low post, getting every shot very close to the basket.

10:20 pm: 52-45, UNC. If There’s one thing that’s going to bring Purdue back in this game, it’s going to be the turnovers they are forcing.

10:22 pm: 54-45, UNC. I knew it! Wisdom-Hylton is on the bench with four fouls.

10:23 pm: What is Larkins doing shooting a long jumper? That is not her territory!

Official timeout. 11:27 left in the game.

10:26 pm: TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS!

10:27 pm: 56-48, UNC. Gearlds hits another three for Purdue, but the Boilermakers still have no answer for Larkins inside. She has 20.

10:29 pm: 56-52, UNC. Purdue has been clawing back, cutting the lead to four.

10:30 pm: 62-52, UNC. Within 45 seconds, McCants hits another jumper to bring her total to 15, Camille Little steals and gets a breakaway, and Latta gets the floater and the foul inside to bring the lead to double digits.

Timeout.

10:34 pm: 64-55, UNC. Only ESPN would cut to the studio as someone hits a shot.

10:35 pm: 64-60, UNC. Katie Gearlds is on fire, and thanks to turnovers they cut the lead back to four. She has 22, but she’s also passing the ball well.

10:37 pm: The lady Tar heels are making the same mistake as the men on Sunday against Georgetown, Their game revolves around the post, yet they’re throwing up jumpers. Even worse, Purdue is getting all of the rebounds, which allows them to control the tempo.

By the way: I’m not writing an article on what went wrong against the Hoyas in this space.

Yet.

10:40 pm: 67-60, UNC. The ESPN play-by-play announcer Mark Jones, on Erlana Larkins: “They’re gonna ride her!”

10:41 pm: 69-60, UNC. Purdue double teams Larkins, but she passes the ball to an open Latoya Pringle. A stat worth being concerned about, however: Erlana has only 1 rebound in the second half.

10:43 pm: 71-60, UNC, 4:28 left. More great passing by Larkins, this time an assist to Little. She’s one if the nation’s most complete players.

10:44 pm: 71-62, UNC, 3:39 left. Last official timeout.

10:47 pm: Purdue is running the full court press. This could go extremely well or extremely bad for the Boilermakers. Let’s hope for the latter.

10:50 pm: 72-62, UNC. 2:45 left. Latta drive inside and forces Wisdom-Hylton to foul out.

10:52 pm: 72-64, UNC, 2:31 left. Oh, man. Seeing that fat guy body painted and with the letters “TA” (I’m guessing Lat-ta) on his lovehandles was just wrong. Nyaaaaaaagh.

10:57 pm: 76-70, UNC, 1:30 left. Latta is hitting her free throws, but Purdue is till scoring on every possession late.

10:59 pm: 78-70, UNC, 1:06 left. The Heels finally get a defensive stop, Larkins gets the rebound, and this game appears sealed.

11:01 pm: 79-70, UNC, :33 left. Now THAT’S what I call a block! Latoya Pringle should be on the football team, she absolutely decleated that Purdue player! I hope Butch Davis is watching.

11:04 pm: North Carolina wins, 84-72, and the Tar Heels return to the Final Four! Considering that Duke and Maryland are already out of the way, I like our chances to win the National Championship. Tennessee, Rutgers, and LSU are certainly no pushovers, but they don’t scare me as much as our ACC foes. Once again, Mark Jones ruins the moment by making an awkward reference to Ludacris and his friendship with Latta: “and the Tar Heels are shaking their moneymaker all the way to the Final Four!” Dude, that’s just wrong.

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.   

What North Carolina Must Do to Win The 2007 NCAA Championship

Tonight UNC begins its march to the Final Four at 9:40 pm against Eastern Kentucky. This year’s team is so unpredictable, I’m not quite sure I won’t be blogging the first 1-16 upset in history. But here are a few things that the Tar Heels can do for the next few weeks to ease my worries and possibly bring a 6th National Title.

  1. Maintain focus. The biggest issue for the Tar Heels is that their focus has been lax at junctures of the game that allow opponents to stay in the game. I have seen numerous times that UNC has the ability to put an opponent away in very little time. The most striking example was in Tuscon, when the Tar heels went from down one with 9 minutes to go in the first half to up 18 at halftime. UNC ultimately beat Arizona by 28, and Brandan Wright and Marcus Ginyard, two of our best players, were out of the game. This proves one of two things: either that UNC has the quick strike ability but allows their collective mind to wander off before they finish the job, or UNC works more efficiently with a smaller rotation. Which brings me to my next point:
  2. Don’t listen to the critics, Roy. Have at least 10 guys get significant minutes. We have perhaps the deepest team in the tournament field. If we’re going to survive the likes of Texas and Georgetown before heading to the Final Four, we’ll need to get at least 8-10 minutes out of 10 players.  Doing this conserves our energy and saps our opponents’. If we can dictate the pace of the game, only the very elite opposition can keep up.
  3. Put in Quentin Thomas instead of Bobby Frasor. I have made no secret that I think Quentin Thomas is a better point guard right now for our style of play than Bobby Frasor, at least this year. Frasor has missed a lot of time with a foot injury, and he seems to be a step slower than his freshman year. The minutes that Ty Lawson is on the bench will be valuable, and point guard such as Marquette’s Dominic James, Michigan State’s Drew Neitzel and Texas’ D.J. Augustin would tear Frasor apart. If Wes Miller guards them, maybe it can work, but that creates a new set of problems. Yes, Q can get out of control sometimes, but he’s better suited to keep teams like Texas on their heels.
  4. Hope that we face USC in the Sweet 16. Because I have no idea how we’re supposed to stop Kevin Durant.
  5.  Feed the paint. Brandan Wright and Tyler Hansbrough remain the two best players on this team, and therefore they need to get the ball as much as possible. Wright was a scoring machine in the ACC Tournament, and did very good job of picking up Hansbrough’s offensive slack. Still, I would like to see him rebound better. As for Hansbrough, he’ll need to regain his pre-Gerald Henderson form. Rebounding is also key to giving the Heels more opportunities and taking opportunities away from the opposition.
  6. Wayne Ellington. For most of the season, Ellington seemed to be the big weakness in our starting lineup. In the ACC Tournament he shined not only as a shooter but as a defender. For UNC to get to the Final Four they’ll need that kind of play out of him.

At least four of these six things need to happen for the Tar Heels to make it to Atlanta. There’s very little room for error in the East bracket.

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.