By: Trey Walker
“The Road Ends Here…….”
A phrase plastered around NRG Stadium for all to see. That is where the road to the championship ends, and dreams go to die, or become a reality. One team will bring home all the marbles tonight, the team that plays the best basketball for 40 minutes. This team will be crowned the best squad in the country.
So lets break down this matchup by team:
-Villanova Wildcats 34-5, (16-2 Big East)
Head Coach: Jay Wright
-(SR/PG) Ryan Arcidiacono: 4.3 Assists per game, 12.4 Points Per Game. GRADUATE ALREADY!!!! A savvy ball handler that gets the ball to the hot hand and has a great stroke himself
-(JR/G) Josh Hart: 15.5 Points Per Game, 6.7 Rebounds per game. Had arguably the best game in his career against Oklahoma in the Final Four. Led the Wildcats in scoring against the Sooners.
-(SR/C) Daniel Ochefu: 7.6 Rebounds per game, 1.5 Blocks per game. This dude is a monster in the paint. Watch for him to crash boards and rattle the rims.
Pros: Villanova is an offensive powerhouse. They don’t struggle putting the ball in the hoop. During the tournament, they are averaging 78 points per game in the tournament, and a point differential margin of +14.7. If the Wildcats score more than 65 points, it is likely they will win.
Cons: Inside presence: The Cats’ don’t have many options to power the ball inside besides Ochefu and Kris Jenkins. Coach Wright’s lack of depth may come back to haunt him; Mikal Bridges was the only bench player to receive more than 11 minutes of court time.
How to win: Contain Brice Johnson in the paint, and force the Tar Heels to take off balance three point shots, and lock down the interior. Shoot like they did against Oklahoma. Dont get the forwards in foul trouble.
-North Carolina Tar Heels 33-6, (14-4 ACC)
Head Coach: Roy Williams
-(SR/F) Brice Johnson: 17.0 Points per game, 10.5 Rebounds per game. The best big the Heels have had since Psycho T. All-ACC 1st Team, All-American 1st Team, Wooden Award Finalist: Johnson has achieved it all this season and will do everything in his ability to see his group come out on top. The 6’9″ forward is automatic inside and has a decent midrange shot to add.
-(SO/G) Joel Berry II: 12.6 Points per game, 1.5 Steals per game. Berry has been the saving grace for Coach Williams in tournament play. He has grown comfortable with his ability to sink the trifecta. Another thing to consider: Joel Berry is fearless. Joel Berry is strong. Joel Berry is not afraid to drive to the hoop against players twice his size.
-(SR/G) Marcus Paige: 12.3 Points per game, 3.7 Assists per game. Its been an interesting season for the Tar Heels prodigal son. Paige was plagued with a brutal midseason slump, and much of the North Carolina fanbase had abandoned the guard. However his 16 converted three pointers during the big dance have lured fans back.
Pros: Depth: Roy Williams has had no problems this season digging deep into his teams bench to relieve his first group. Players like Kenny Williams, Isaiah Hicks, and Joel James have been getting the job done while their superstars catch a break.
Cons: Shooting from 3: The Heels had a horrendous performance shooting the Tre in the semifinal versus Syracuse, only making 4 for 17 attempted. Also, when opposing teams get on scoring runs, Ole’ Roy tends to conserve those timeouts to try and win the most unused timeouts award given annually at the end of each college basketball season. As a result, UNC plays out of sync often in crunch time.
How to Win: Call timeouts when they are needed Roy, your team can’t save themselves in every situation. The Tar Heels MUST have a fortuitous night from the three pointer and play well on the interior. Make sure the front court players stay out of foul trouble, Johnson cannot afford to receive 2 fouls in the early minutes of this one. Pray Villanova doesn’t shoot 74%.