North Carolina-Oklahoma Preview: Keys to a Tar Heel Victory

The ACC and SEC BlogSenior Analyst IMarch 28, 2009

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 27:  Ty Lawson #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels gives teammate Tyler Hansbrough #50 a five in the first half against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regionals at the FedExForum on March 27, 2009 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

North Carolina goes for their second straight Final Four appearance on Sunday, but Blake Griffin and the Oklahoma Sooners stand in their way. Expect this one to be a physical, fast paced game, with the winner claiming the final spot in Detroit.


How They Got Here...

#1 North Carolina d. #16 Radford 101-58, d. #8 LSU 84-70, d. #4 Gonzaga 98-77
#2 Oklahoma d. #15 Morgan St 82-54, d. #10 Michigan 73-63, d. #3 Syracuse 84-71


Keys for an Oklahoma Win

The Glass...Will It Still Be Griffin's Domain?

Everyone knows of Blake Griffin's rebounding ability, grabbing an astonishing 14.4 per game, but the super soph has not faced many teams that can hit the glass like UNC can; the Tar Heels grab 15 of their own shots per contest.

The Sooners have done a pretty good job this season, allowing just under 13 offensive boards from their opponents; a number somewhat inflated because of their defense on opposing teams. The question will be whether or not Griffin can keep Tyler Hansbrough and Deon Thompson at bay in the paint.

Free Throws...Can Oklahoma Hit'em?

Oklahoma is hitting just 68 percent from the free throw line this season. The much fouled Griffin is a hitting a paltry 59 percent from the charity stripe.

Meanwhile, UNC hit 76 percent on the season, and has shot the ninth most free throws in the nation. In a close game, with a lot of action in the post, this stat could loom large late in the game.


Keys for a North Carolina Win

Will UNC Maintain The Hot Shooting Hand?

UNC is shooting 48 percent from the floor on the season including, a 53 percent effort on Friday against Gonzaga. The Tar Heels also hit nearly 40 percent from three-point range.

However, the Sooners defense allows opponents just 39.5 percent from the field. In all four of Carolina's losses they shot under 45 percent each time.

Tempo...North Carolina Wants It Fast

The Tar Heels offense has their after burners back with Ty Lawson not showing any ill effects from a lingering toe injury in Friday's win. North Carolina barely missed their second straight 100 point game against a good Gonzaga team.

Oklahoma is no slow poke either, averaging 79 per game, but the Sooners have to be comfortable with the tempo and not let it get too fast because no one can stay with the Tar Heels pace for long.



I do not expect Griffin and Hansbrough to be guarding each other much, for fear of foul trouble on each. If North Carolina is hitting their shots, especially from long range, they are near impossible to beat.

Lawson and Ellington will out play Oklahoma's less experienced guards, and despite Griffin's monster game, his Sooners come up just short.

Pick: North Carolina

Season: 45-29 SU through 3/28