NCAA Touranment 2012: UNC and NC State Will Punch Tickets to Regional Finals

Michael DixonAnalyst IIIMarch 23, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 10:  C.J. Leslie #5 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack drives against Justin Watts #24 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the semifinals of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conference Tournament at Philips Arena on March 10, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Get ready in North Carolina, one of your schools will be headed to the Final Four. Both the North Carolina Tar Heels and North Carolina State Wolf Pack will win their respective games in the Midwest semifinals, setting up what will be an epic final between the ACC rivals. 

I could say that the two teams are better than their respective opponents and leave it at that, but that would be boring. Instead, let's take a look at why the in-state rivals are going to advance. 

No. 13 Ohio vs. No. 1 North Carolina

You can point to the John Henson and Kendall Marshall injuries all you want, but the fact of the matter is that the Tar Heels are just a much better team than the Bobcats are. Ohio has played two close games against some of the most overrated teams in the tournament (Michigan, South Florida), but that luck is going to come to an emphatic end on Friday. 

One reason why is that North Carolina's backups still have a lot more talent than any of Ohio's players. But more importantly, North Carolina will have the like of Tyler Zeller, Harrison Barnes and Reggie Bullock controlling the game, and Ohio doesn't have an answer for them. 

The Tar Heels still shoot well from the outside, dominate the boards and score as many points as any team in the country. Ohio is a nice little story, but they don't match up in this one.

Prediction: North Carolina 81, Ohio 63 

No. 11 North Carolina State vs. No. 2 Kansas

Kansas has the great record, but they are a struggling team. They got extremely lucky against Purdue and my guess is that they're not a confident team right now. If they are confident, then they're not that talented, because something has to explain what happened against Purdue. 

I look at the Wolf Pack and see a team with five double-digit scorers who will offset the star power of Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor. C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown will come close to matching those two, and Scott Wood, Richard Howell and C.J. Williams will pick up whatever slack is needed.

N.C. State is a different team since the beginning of the ACC Tournament. That hot streak will continue into a rematch with the Tar Heels, giving them a chance to avenge the tough loss in the conference tourney. 

Prediction: North Carolina State 72, Kansas 68

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