North Carolina and Kansas: Who had the edge?

March 25, 2012 

No. 2 Kansas 80, No. 1 UNC 67

STARTERS

Tyshawn Taylor, 6-3, Sr. vs. Stilman White, 6-0, Fr.

White played about as well as could be expected, handing out seven assists while not committing a turnover, but Kansas dared White to make a difference at the end of the game by playing a triangle-and-two defense. White missed a couple of jumpers and made an ill-advised drive into the lane. Taylor, meanwhile, had an exceptional game, scoring 22 points, grabbing six rebounds and distributing five assists.

PREDICTED EDGE: Kansas

REAL EDGE: Kansas

Elijah Johnson, 6-4, Jr. vs. Reggie Bullock, 6-7, So.

Neither player had a strong afternoon, although Johnson hit a 3-pointer from the wing to put the Jayhawks up 71-67 and begin the game-ending 12-0 run. Bullock, meanwhile, had seven rebounds, but he couldn’t get much going offensively, missing four of his five 3-point attempts.

PREDICTED EDGE: Even

REAL EDGE: Kansas

Travis Releford, 6-6, Jr. vs. Harrison Barnes, 6-8, So.

Barnes’ rough weekend continued. The standout sophomore didn’t make a 3-pointer against the Jayhawks and struggled to make his mark in the second half while ultimately finishing with 13 points. That was two points more than Releford, but UNC needed this matchup to break more decisively in its favor.

PREDICTED EDGE: UNC

REAL EDGE: Even

Thomas Robinson, 6-10, Jr. vs. John Henson, 6-10, Jr.

Henson hurt his ankle early in the game, allowing Robinson to get going. The Jayhawks’ junior wasn’t as prominent a factor in the second half, finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds. But Henson couldn’t make his presence felt on the defensive end, blocking only one shot and grabbing four rebounds.

PREDICTED EDGE: Kansas

REAL EDGE: Kansas

Jeff Withey, 7-0, Jr. vs. Tyler Zeller, 7-0, Sr.

Without Marshall, UNC needed either Barnes or Zeller to put the team on their back and carry them to the Final Four. Zeller was a large part of the reason for UNC’s win against Ohio on Friday, but he wasn’t as strong against the Jayhawks’ tall frontline. Zeller finished with 12 points, six rebounds and four blocks, which isn’t an insignificant effort. But Withey more than matched that with 15 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.

PREDICTED EDGE: UNC

REAL EDGE: Kansas

BENCH

James Michael McAdoo was the biggest bright spot for the Tar Heels, scoring 15 points. He was a force in the first half as UNC traded baskets with the Jayhawks. If McAdoo returns to Chapel Hill next season, he could be a focal point of the Tar Heels’ offense. Kansas, meanwhile, only got four points from its bench players.

PREDICTED EDGE: Even

REAL EDGE: UNC

INTANGIBLES

Everything seemed to work against UNC. Kendall Marshall didn’t play. Henson hurt his ankle in the first half and missed significant time. Kansas had a decisive edge in crowd support. To their credit, the Tar Heels fought through it all for the first 35 minutes. But it proved too much to overcome by the end of the game.

PREDICTED EDGE: Kansas

REAL EDGE: Kansas

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