When it comes to the NCAA Tournament, it doesn’t matter how you win, as long as you win. ‘Survive and advance’ is the key in March Madness, and that is exactly what the North Carolina Tar Heels did yesterday.
In the second round of the NCAA tournament, No. 8 North Carolina was up against No. 9 Villanova. Everyone expected this game to be tightly-contested and a battle all the way to the final buzzer.
It seemed like North Carolina had different plans when its transition game and defensive intensity was off the charts in the early stages of the game. The Tar Heels looked like a top seed in the tournament the way they played early on and showed that they could do some damage in this tournament.
Then it all fell apart as North Carolina’s weaknesses were attacked by Villanova, who mounted a furious comeback to eventually take the lead in the second half. Full court pressure, offensive rebounds, and points in the paint was the recipe to an almost amazing victory for Jay Wright‘s squad.
Carolina struggled when Nova pressed and turned the ball over at times. The Tar Heels also struggled in the paint on defense. P.J. Hairston was taken to school by JayVaughn Pinkston, who had a great game. An undersized Hairston was finally exploited in the paint after competing with most big men during the regular season.
The major problem UNC had was rebounding. In the first half, its squad was able to force turnovers and bad shots, allowing them to get out and run and play at their tempo. In the second half, Nova slowed the game down and got good shots. That allowed for Pinkston and Mouphtaou Yarou to get in position for offensive rebounds.
Halfway through the second half, North Carolina only had a single rebound in the half. Villanova had 10 and seemed to get second-chance points off of every miss. It seemed like Carolina had no shot to win, but some clutch shots allowed it to advance and earn Roy Williams his 700th victory.
In a game where it seemed like Carolina was trying to lose, the Tar Heels were able to survive and advance to the round of 32, where they will take on the No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks.