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Monday, April 6, 2009

Tar Heels bounce 'Nova, advance to national final

Posted by on Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 12:45 AM

There isn't much to explain here. North Carolina's 83-69 victory over Villanova on Saturday night has put the Tar Heels one step away from winning the school's fifth national championship — and the second since Roy Williams arrived in Chapel Hill.

The Heels were too much for the Wildcats, who played extremely physical defense and did actually succeed in wearing Carolina down in the second half, but they just couldn't match UNC's hot perimeter shooting.

As a team, UNC shot 11-for-22 on three-pointers, while their opponent shot just 5-for 27 from behind the arc. There was a key stretch in the second half when Villanova cut the lead to five points, but the Heels bounced back with a Danny Green bomb and never looked back.

Wayne Ellington again was spectacular for the Tar Heels. He shot 5-for-7 on threes and finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Ty Lawson added his customary big numbers, getting 22 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.

But despite winning another tournament game by double-digits, Carolina didn't play as well as the final score indicates. The Heels were out-rebounded by the feisty Wildcats and also shot horribly from the free throw line, knocking in only 22-for-37 from the stripe.

That said, it says something that a team could miss that many free throws, shoot 40 percent from the field, get beaten on the backboards and still win comfortably. Carolina's resurgent defense is the key, as the Heels mixed in a zone to accompany its base — and increasingly hostile — man-to-man.

That no one from the CBS broadcasting team commented on the significance of this made me, for just one moment, miss Billy Packer.

The Heels will play Michigan State on Monday night. The Spartans dispatched favored Connecticut by dominating the game physically and making it a fullcourt affair. The Spartans, normally a halfcourt team, have pledged to run against Carolina. Will they stay true to their word?

To see the UNC/Villanova box score, click here.

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