Sunday, April 5, 2009

North Carolina's Golden Path to the Finals

So instead of doing a 'Weekend That Was' update this I have instead decided to write about North Carolina and their easy path to the championship game.  Monday night the UNC Tarheels play the Michigan State Spartans for the NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship.  While the Spartans had to beat GOOD teams to get the finals including Kansas, Louisville, and UCONN their opponents in UNC were gifted by playing Gonzaga (mid major), Oklahoma (one-dimensional), and Villanova (over rated and fluky). 

Now I realise that this comes off as bias because I am a Spartans fan and have both Tyler Hansborough and coach Roy Williams on my Mount Rushmore of NCAA jerkstores but believe me I have brought some stats to the party.  I may write like a blowhard but I do occasionally like to reference some actual statistics.


In every game since the round of 32 (this round needs a cool nickname) North Carolina's opponents have been shooting like crap from 3-point land.  In the Sweet 16 against Gonzaga (not a good team) the Zags went 7-23 from 3-point which is 30.4%.  In the Elite 8 against Oklahoma (one dimensional) the Sooners went 2-19 from 3-point which is 10.5%.  Finally in the Final Four the Villanova Wildcats (fluke to even be this far) went 5-27 which is 18.5%.

All of North Carolina's opponents couldn't hit a 3-pointer to save their life in these 3 games and it costly them dearly.  Now I know that this could be attributed to the Tarheel's defense but having watched all 3 of these games I can safely say that all 3 teams were missing wide open looks.  In the Villanova game star guard Scottie Reynolds missed open shot after open shot and helped cost his team the game.

Strength of Opponents

As previously stated North Carolina had to beat Gonzaga, Oklahoma, and Villanova to get into the championship game.  In terms of overall records this seems like a daunting task however once the tournament begins records are thrown out the window and the only thing that matters is the momentum a team currently has going.


In the Sweet 16 UNC played Gonzaga.  Gonzaga had gotten this far by beating Akron 77-64 and narrowly beating Western Kentucky 83-81.  Gonzaga had no momentum and shot terribley which equals an easy win for UNC


In the Elite 8 UNC played Oklahoma who had breezed their way through the tournament so far. However they had done so by beating weaker teams.  They opened the tourney with a 82-54 win over Morgan State and followed that up with a win over Michigan 73-63.  They then found themselves lucky enough to be playing Syracuse who was exhausted as coming into the tournament they had played 4 games in 4 nights, including a 6 overtime marathon game against UCONN.  


Villanova had almost as easy a road to the Final Four as UNC as they had beaten up on American University 80-67, a sub-par UCLA team 89-69, and an underwhelming Duke squad 77-54.  Their only hard game was against Pittsburgh and if not for Levance Fields attempting to take a charge rather than trying to block a shot they would not have won that game.

Clearly the teams that UNC had to beat to make it to the national championship were not as great as originally believed as they were either given easy opponents to make it that far or faced the right team at the right time.


Many people are writing off Michigan State already and are doing so based on the 98-63 loss to UNC earlier this season.  I feel like this is game has no bearing on Mondays game other than to give the Spartans extra motivation. 

The game is at Ford Field in Detroit so obviously the home crowd will favor MSU which should help.  Added to this is the incredible momentum MSU has after beating two #1 seeds in a row (Louisville and UCONN) which should give the team extra confidence as they are this years giant killers.

However in order for MSU to be successful they will need to force UNC to go to its bench early. The only reserve players that UNC have (that don't completely suck) are Bobby Frasor, Ed Davis, and Tyler Zeller.  MSU has a much deeper bench and if they can force UNC into early foul trouble then they should be able to win this game.

Sidenote: I will be doing a running blog diary of this game on Monday night adding updates every few minutes, or when something merits being written about, so come to the site during the game (if possible) and keep hitting refresh for constant updates.

Random Youtube Video

1 comment:

Brad Spencer said...

Was it a hard choice between the championship game live blog and a hills love blog?