(1) North Carolina vs. (2) Kansas Preview
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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(1) North Carolina Tar Heels
While the Tar Heels are still alive, make no mistake about it, the Bobcats gave them a lot of trouble and were just a break or two away from pulling off the upset. Walter Offutt missed a free throw with 26 seconds left in regulation that could have been the game-winner. Instead, the game went into overtime and the Bobcats could only muster one bucket as they fell 73-65. Saying that the Tar Heels missed injured point guard Kendall Marshall would be an understatement. Their offense was nowhere near as efficient without him. Barnes struggled in particular, making just 3-of-16 from the floor. Luckily for Barnes, Tyler Zeller and Jon Henson dominated the interior. Zeller finished with a monster double-double of 20 points and 22 rebounds with four blocks while Henson had 14 and 10. Stillman White dished out six assists in place of Marshall at the point, but the Tar Heels wouldn’t be in the Elite Eight if it wasn’t for Reggie Bullock. He scored 17 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had five assists of his own. Against Kansas their frontline will have to dominate again because even if Marshall does find a way to play, he’ll still be limited.
(2) Kansas Jayhawks
In one of their best defensive efforts of the season, the Jayhawks fought off the feisty N.C. State Wolfpack for a 60-57 victory that puts them in the Elite Eight. The Jayhawks only allowed the Wolfpack to shoot 28 percent from the field and three point line. Jeff Withey anchored them defensively with 10 blocks. Thomas Robinson played like the Player of the Year candidate he is, posting up 18 points and 15 rebounds. Tyshawn Taylor’s shots weren’t falling, but he contributed in other ways with 10 rebounds and five assists. The Jayhawks’ big men are going to have to duplicate their efforts from the Sweet 16 as they get ready to go up against the Tar Heels’ talented frontline. The Tar Heels outrebounded their Sweet 16 foe by 30. It will be important for the Jayhawks to complete their defense by securing the defensive rebound. The Wolfpack snatched 20 offensive boards against them. Although that is largely thanks to their abysmal shooting, the Jayhawks still need to improve in that aspect because the Tar Heels will be crashing just as hard.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Kansas. The Tar Heels are not going to be able to dominate inside the paint like they did against the Bobcats. Kansas’ big men will hold their own and the Jayhawks will advance to the Final Four over their former coach Roy Williams, which will make it all the more sweeter.