Gary Gramling

Three Keys: North Carolina vs. Villanova

  • Hoophead
  • Gary Gramling
  • April 4, 2009, 10:54 AM

North Carolina and Villanova are March's two hottest teams. Here's what will decide which team survives to play in Monday's National Championship...

1. Backcourt Battle
Quite simply, when star point guard Ty Lawson plays well, Carolina wins. When he stumbles... well, the Heels often find themselves in trouble. Lawson will not only be needed on the offensive end, but he'll play a big role in trying to shut down Villanova's playmaker, Scottie Reynolds. Reynolds hasn't exactly been on his game this Tournament, shooting just .357 percent from the field and .222 percent from three. But Nova has still been steamrolling opponents. If Reynolds finds his shooting touch in Detroit, and Lawson can't slow him down, the Wildcats have a very good chance at pulling off the upset.

2. Going Deep
North Carolina has been absolutely torching the nets from behind the arc, hitting .450 percent of their threes during the Tournament. If they continue that hot shooting, they'll be nearly impossible to beat. But it won't be easy, as Villanova guards the perimeter very well.

3. Zebras
Like it or not (and I have a feeling no one will like it), the refs are going to play a huge role in this one. Villanova plays an extremely physical style, and Tyler Hansbrough creates tons of contact on the offensive end. If the refs call this one tight, the Wildcats are going to be in foul trouble early. Star big man Dante Cunningham would especially be in trouble, as he'll likely be guarding Psycho T. And they won't be able to afford that against the ultra-talented Tar Heels. If the game is called loosely (which many have during this Tournament), an edge goes to Nova.

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