North Carolina’s motor — and other Sweet 16 thoughts

A few thoughts on Thursday’s Sweet 16 games…

Last week I wrote on here that I thought that UCLA’s Darren Collison was a better point guard than UNC’s Ty Lawson.

Brace yourself — I might have been wrong.

Since the ACC tournament final, Lawson has been surreal for the Tar Heels, looking even better than he did before he injured his ankle on Feb. 3 against Florida State. Maybe it has to do with the Heels’ competition thus far in the NCAA tournament, but he’s been a Carl Lewis among boys on the hardwood, sprinting past everybody to quarterback the North Carolina juggernaut.

With Lawson playing like this, those with UNC in the final of the NCAA brackets can feel pretty good about their chances. His dribble penetration gave Danny Green and Wayne Ellington wide open looks for 3-pointers, and his combination of speed and strength allowed Lawson to make tough leaners and runners in the paint to keep the offense rolling and the scoreboard operator busy.

Tyler Hansbrough didn’t do much offensively in the first half, scoring just two points. But with Lawson getting UNC’s other weapons involved, the Heels — gasp! — didn’t really even need Hansbrough. Lawson’s 3 right before the end of the first half gave UNC a 14-point edge entering the locker room, and the game was essentially over.

While Hansbrough was sparkling in the second half, going for 16 points, North Carolina just overwhelmed the Cougars with a barrage of athletes. 

 

Roy Williams mentioned it in his postgame comments, that while UNC was indeed every good defensively on Thursday night, Washington State missed a ton of wide open looks. Washington State probably wasn’t going to beat North Carolina on this night, but it had no chance by opening 1-for-12 on 3s. 

 

And I think that may be a definite on Collison. He fouled out with over five minutes left in UCLA’s hang-on win over Western Kentucky, scoring just four points.

Luckily for the Bruins, Kevin Love is a monster. He finished with 29 points and 14 rebounds and got and unbelievable 18 points and 12 boards out of nowhere from James Keefe, who came in averaging a whopping 2.1 points and 2.4 rebounds per game this season.

It’s safe to say that UCLA hasn’t exactly been impressive thus far.

 

The Tar Heels will get one of the hottest teams in all the land next in Louisville, which withstood one last charge by Tennessee midway through the second half. The Vols trimmed an 18-point first-half deficit to seven by the break and then all the way to one in the second half, but the Cardinals responded with 10 quick points to effectively put the game away.

The Vols just didn’t seem to be the same team that beat Memphis since … well, since they beat Memphis. There were rumblings this week that star guard Chris Lofton was hurt and he sure seemed to play like it, doing virtually nothing in Tennessee’s three games.

It should be a good one when Louisville and UNC lock horns on Saturday.  

 

Xavier was bailed out by B.J. Raymond’s two clutch 3-pointers in overtime to beat West Virginia, but I still can’t help but think the Musketeers got a break from an official’s whistle, too.

Joe Alexander picked up his fifth foul 30 seconds into overtime, and it would be interesting to see the play unfold in real time with audio. It was questionable exactly when the call was made and either of two potential fouls could have been called. 

Losing Alexander crippled West Virginia. Of course, had Alexander made his foul shot with 12 seconds left in regulation, none of this matters.

 

That said, how about those two shots by Raymond? 

 

Just how many times can Jay Bilas say a phrase with the words “high” and “rate” in them?

 

You know, when you’re likely the top choice to get the Indiana job and you’ve brought your team to the Sweet 16 to face the top team in the country, do you think you could’ve worn a tie? The Herald’s Randy Quis said that Tony Bennett left his tie in San Francisco.

Har, har.

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Filed under ACC, College Basketball, Designated Hitter, NCAA Tournament, Sports, Sports columns, The Sanford Herald, UNC Tar Heels

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