UNC Basketball: Keys to Knocking off Kansas and Advancing to Final Four

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IMarch 25, 2012

The North Carolina Tar Heels barely survived their Sweet 16 matchup with the Ohio Bobcats, but there's no time to dwell on that. 

Because a much stiffer opponent, Kansas, awaits in the Elite Eight. 

If UNC is going to advance to the Final Four without point guard Kendall Marshall—it's likely he won't play—there are some very important things the Heels will have to accomplish.

Here's a look at the most important keys for a victory today. 

 

Rebound, Rebound, and Maybe Rebound Some More

All season long, the Tar Heels have been one of the best rebounding teams in the country. This is nothing new.

But without Marshall, there is no one to push the pace and get North Carolina into the fast break it so desperately desires. Because they will be forced to play in the half court and slow things down, rebounding becomes even more important.

North Carolina isn't great at getting open looks out of the half-court offense, so it will need to score a lot of easy baskets off offensive rebounds.

This is easier said than done, however, because Thomas Robinson is one of the best rebounders in the country, and Jeff Withey is no slouch, either. The Jayhawks pulled down 71 percent of available defensive 'boards, good enough for third-best in the Big 12. 

 

Harrison Barnes Must Be More Aggressive

In UNC's first two games of the tournament, Barnes was 8-of-16 from inside the paint.

Against Ohio, he was 0-of-1. That means the talented sophomore took 15 shots from outside the paint against the Bobcats and made just three of them.

Yuck.

In overtime, Barnes became much more aggressive and scored five of North Carolina's 10 points. He needs to do more of that against Kansas today. 

He can't continue to settle for contested threes and fade-away 18-footers from the corner. Barnes needs to take his man off the dribble or post up. He is a terrific shooter, there's no doubt about that, but he can be just as effective in the lane. 

 

Take Care of the Ball

Against Ohio, the Tar Heels turned the ball over 24 times.

Twenty-four.

Stilman White did a terrific job taking care of the basketball, as he had zero turnovers, but everyone else who played had at least two.

Tyler Zeller had a terrific game, but he had six turnovers. Barnes had five. Justin Watts, who Carolina needs at point guard, had three. P.J. Hairston had two in eight minutes.

Just awful.

Part of the reason they turned it over so much is because they are so uncomfortable in the half-court offense. I realize White is nowhere near as explosive as Marshall, but he at least needs to attempt to push the break.

When North Carolina is pushing the pace, it is much more comfortable. If that happens, the Heels won't turn the ball over as much and they will win.

 

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