(2) UNC vs. (7) Washington
(2) North Carolina Tar Heels
Despite jumping out to a 12-2 lead just less than three minutes into its second round match-up with Long Island, North Carolina couldn’t slam the door on the 15th-seeded Blackbirds in the Tar Heels 102-87 win. Coming off a 17-loss campaign and a trip to the NIT a year ago, UNC went inside early and often against LIU, riding a phenomenal performance from its starting front line to advance to the round of 32 in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Tyler Zeller, Harrison Barnes and John Henson combined for 84 points, 36 rebounds and nine blocked shots while shooting .571 (28-49) from the field. Freshman point guard Kendall Marshall had ten assists for the Tar Heels. Coach Roy Williams’ team’s performance was far from perfect, however. North Carolina made just 3-17 three-point shots and turned the ball over 18 times.
One of the most explosive, but inconsistent, teams in the tournament field this year, the Washington Huskies were able to survive their second round match-up with Georgia on Friday despite being held to just 68 points, more than 15 below their season average. Pac-10 Tournament MVP Isaiah Thomas led the Huskies with 19 points and made a critical defensive play in the game’s waning seconds as Coach Lorenzo Romar’s team held off a furious rally by the Bulldogs. The win, while ugly, was encouraging for the Huskies, who have struggled when forced to play at a slow tempo up to this point. Georgia controlled the pace for most of the game but UW took care of the basketball, committing just five turnovers, and managed to score 15 fast break points to the Bulldogs four.
HOOPSWORLD’s Pick: Washington. The Huskies are an extremely efficient offensive team which thrives in the open court. Look for the Dawgs to outscore North Carolina in what is sure to be a track meet.