It is rare to find the runner up to the ACC tournament as an 8th seed but that is where the Tar Heels landed. The seed was based largely on losses early in the season because once Coach Roy Williams made the decision to surround talented forward James Michael McAdoo with four guards that can make the outside shot the offense has picked up and the defensive intensity has been increased with much better ball pressure. UNC under Coach Williams has always been famous for its full court pressure defense and with the improved quickness it has made that pressure more intense. McAdoo is the son of the legendary Bob McAdoo and has had a lot of pressure on his shoulders after virtually all of the rotation players from last season’s team departed for the NBA. After a slow start he has started to evolve into the force that he can be. While he is more of a face-up player as opposed to a post player he can use his strength and quickness is a variety of ways. Sophomore P.J Hairston and junior Reggie Bullock emerged as scorers as the season went on and flourished in the four guard set averaging 14 points per game each overall. Senior Dexter Strickland emerged as a consistent force at the 2 guard spot and a dominant on ball defender. Freshman point guard Marcus Strickland has made the biggest improvement as the season has worn on.
Playing PG at UNC is a tough thing to do for anyone and this freshman is showing signs of being a star. For the Wildcats sophomore star JayVaughn Pinkston is the leading scorer, capable of playing in the post as well as on the outside. Freshman guard Ryan Arcidiacono has earned the respect of his teammates and opponents with his fierce play. He is a good three point shooter and competes as hard as any player in the tournament. While this stat is unofficial it a virtual certainty that he led freshman in minutes played as he hardly leaved the floor. Sophomore guard Darrun Hilliard averaged 11 points a game using his size to advantage on most occasions.
If Villanova is going to get the win they are going to have to use their superior size and strength to their advantage. Exploiting the UNC small lineup may be the Wildcats best chance. UNC is going to look to continue to push the tempo and create open shots. After rebounds they will look to push with the infamous Carolina break that will allow them to create open shots and keep the tempo in their favor. It will be interesting to see if Villanova looks to slow the tempo despite the fact that they are an up-tempo team themselves. The bottom line is that North Carolina has been playing fantastic during the second half of the season and Villanova will not be able to withstand their pressure for 40 minutes.
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