Keys to the game
Hang around: Carolina lands knock-out punches with Mike Tyson regularity. The Heels have done it to Louisiana State, Gonzaga, Oklahoma, Michigan State, Duke, Kentucky and Notre Dame, among many others. The first few minutes of the second half are when Carolina has been particularly lethal.
To have a chance to win at closing time, the Wildcats cannot afford to spend their energy trying to erase double-digit deficits.
Tie up Ty: Someone — probably several defenders — will have to contain UNC playmaker Ty Lawson. Wildcat coach Jay Wright probably would like to mix zone and man defenses to keep Lawson guessing. That was Oklahoma’s plan, too. But Danny Green’s early perimeter jumpers put the Sooners too far behind to sit back and wait in a zone. But if Lawson is free to set his own pace, no defensive strategy will be successful.
Rebounding: Few teams get many second offensive chances against Carolina, but it’s imperative that the Wildcats keep that category to a standoff on the defensive boards. That means Cunningham, Anderson, Pena and Clark will be under game-long pressure to box out the Tar Heel big men. Hansbrough, alone, is averaging almost three offensive recoveries per game.
Coach: Jay Wright
Born on Christmas Eve, 1961, Wright has been a gift from the basketball gods for Villanova.
Since the Wildcats lured him away from Hofstra after the 2000-01 season, Wright has won 178 games and taken teams to the NCAA Tournament five straight years, including third-round advances in ‘07-’08 and ‘04-’05 and a march to the regional finals in ‘06-’07.
G Dante Cunningham 6-8, 230, Sr., 16.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.3 bpg
G Scottie Reynolds 6-2, 195, Jr., 15.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.3 apg
G Corey Fisher 6-1, 185, So., 10.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.8 apg
F Dwayne Anderson 6-6, 215, Sr., 9.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.6 spg
G Reggie Redding 6-5, 205, Jr., 6.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.1 apg
F Shane Clark 6-7, 205, Sr., 5.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 0.9 apg
By the numbers
1 The margin of defeat when the Wildcats last played UNC — 67-66 in the third round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament.
148 The combined total of 3-pointers converted by guards Corey Stokes (76) and Scottie Reynolds (72), exactly the same as the combined total of UNC’s Wayne Ellington (77) and Danny Green (71).