Even the most hardcore North Carolina Tar Heels fan didn’t expect it yesterday.
Facing a very good defensive team from Marquette, UNC dismantled their efforts with one of the best offensive performances in the history of the tournament program.
Without. 1 seed Baylor tomorrow at noon, Carolina must avoid disappointment following a great victory that we have seen too often this season.
Here are some things to look out for when the Tar Heels take on the defending national champions.
Keep spreading the floor
Especially in the first half, UNC effectively spread the floor in attack. The Tar Heels looked better from the outside and the rebounds were plentiful.
Carolina needs to avoid what happened in the ACC tournament. After a strong performance against Virginia, the game plan was copied and pasted for the Virginia Tech game.
The Hokies were ready, especially for the high-low screen, and the offense spat.
Yesterday’s attack moved the ball effectively and the attack was created all over the half court.
Here’s an underrated stat from yesterday’s game: RJ Davis had the most assists by a Tar Heel in a decade.
There were more open looks from the outside, and when the defense got close to those shots, cuts through the lane allowed for high percentage shots.
Caleb Love spoke about it during the post-game press conference:
You know, just getting in the way. You know, we go into a lane and we kick it out for an open three. We have a lot of guys who can shoot. We penetrate the defense and we kick them out and knock them down.
Baylor has a slower pace on offense, so it will be interesting to see if Carolina can impose their pace on the game.
It will be tough to match Thursday’s level of output, but as long as UNC continues to move in that direction, Carolina will be competitive.
When the Tar Heels play to their potential, there’s a noticeable difference in their defensive intensity.
Sure, the Golden Eagles looked like they were throwing a beach ball into a golf cup, but Carolina had a lot to do with it.
Asked about the offense during the awkward in-game interview, head coach Hubert Davis immediately pivoted to talk defense.
Love, who had a terrific attacking performance, spoke about the 20-2 first half difference maker in the post-match press conference:
I feel like it’s just our defense. You know, we pride ourselves on defence. And we saw that we could turn them around and make them take bad hits. And so that just helped the race.
As they face one of the best offensive teams in the nation tomorrow, UNC’s NCAA Tournament fate will hinge on their defensive performances.
A shooter must stay warm
Luckily for the Tar Heels, Love and Brady Manek were excellent on the outside yesterday.
Carolina needs at least one shooter to keep her hand warm if she wants to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
We saw this team play to their potential yesterday, but everyone knows you need a little luck and momentum during the NCAA Tournament.
Love had this to say about achieving some of these shots and building confidence:
When you fire your first one and it goes in, you kind of get a feeling of it. Since we have been here, you know, we had an idea of the ball and the ball was good. So, you know, as a shooter, and you see your first throw, you become confident. And like I said, you keep shooting and they keep falling.
Hopefully those shots keep falling for the Tar Heels.