After facing a Georgia Bulldogs team that tried to slow the pace in the first round, the Washington Huskies will face a North Carolina Tar Heels team this morning that will not bother much with trying to slow down.
More importantly, there were few teams in the nation this season that ran as fast and as efficiently as the Huskies, but the Tar Heels do approach that level - while the Huskies scored 1.12 points per possession at a pace of 73.5 possessions per 40 minutes, the Tar Heels scored 1.04 points per possession at a pace of 74.6 possessions per 40. Both teams like to get up and down the court and both are fairly adept at doing so.
The big difference offensively is that while the Huskies have proven to be an erratic 3-point shooting team, the Tar Heels are just not good at making hitting from beyond the arc: their 32.9 percent 3-point percentage ranked them eighth in the ACC this season and in the bottom half of the nation.
However, as a team that doesn't shoot the three well, they win games on the strength of a tall front line that helps them to a significant rebounding advantage over opponents. That puts a whole lot of pressure on the Huskies posts of Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Aziz N'Diaye for a second game in a row, as alluded to by T.H. of SBN's North Carolina site Carolina March.
NCAA Tournament Preview: UNC vs. Washington - Carolina March
The Tar Heels best chance of victory is to use their defense to keep the Huskies off balance; most of their losses came on the rare occasions they were held to under a point per possession. Here UNCs height will be a big help. As with LIU, both members of UDub's starting backcourt are under six foot, and there's really no height outside of Bryan-Amaning and N'Diaye. Thomas will get his points, but Carolina can limit his penetration with their front line, and make his outside shooting more difficult at least with their longer reach. If they can clean up on the boards and, as always, not make so many stupid turnovers, they can advance to Newark next week.
However, his off-hand note at the end there is essential too: the Tar Heels turn the ball over about as often as their opponents at their fast pace, whereas the Huskies generally have a turnover advantage.
So although the pace of this game might be different, ultimately the keys remain strikingly similar to those against first round opponent Georgia: UW will have to contain UNC's post players while also maintaining their defensive intensity and forcing turnovers that help them get those transition points.
Regardless of the outcome, this should be a fun game to watch.