Won’t be long now, folks. We’re about 20 minutes away from the start of North Carolina and Iowa State here in the NCAA tournament East Regional quarterfinals. On the line today: A trip to the Sweet 16 in New York City.
Some pregame thoughts …
--UNC likes to run, and the Tar Heels shouldn’t lack for opportunities to do so today. Iowa State is one of the fastest-paced teams in the country, and UNC coach Roy Williams said on Saturday that the Cyclones run the way he’d like the Tar Heels to run. Creating transition opportunities was key for UNC during its victory against Providence on Friday night, and it’ll be important again today. The Tar Heels can’t afford to waste scoring chances in transition.
--Iowa State is without Georges Niang, its 6-foot-7 forward who suffered a broken foot during the victory against N.C. Central on Friday night. Niang was the Cyclones’ tallest starter, and his absence leaves a void in the Iowa State frontcourt. This can be both an advantage and disadvantage for UNC. Obviously, the loss of Niang is a huge one for Iowa State. But Williams expressed some concern about not knowing how Iowa State will compensate for that loss, and what the Cyclones will look like against Niang.
--Iowa State shoots a lot of 3-pointers. The Cyclones have attempted the ninth-most 3s in the country this season, and they have six guys who can shoot. Statistically, UNC’s perimeter defense has been sound this season. The Tar Heels are holding their opponents to 31.1 percent 3-point shooting. Keep Iowa State around that percentage today and UNC would likely have a good shot of advancing.