This Saturday's NCAA semifinal between North Carolina and Villanova will be a hard fought contest.
The last time 47-year-old Jay Wright and his Wildcats faced 58-year-old Roy Williams and the Tarheels, was in the 2005 Sweet 16—UNC won that game by one point, 67-66.
North Carolina (32-4) is a lightening quick basketball team and has size and strength. UNC had to rely on all these attributes to perform well in a brutal ACC regular season, the ACC post-season tournament, and their four NCAA tournament bouts.
Villanova (30-7) with its' in-your-face defense is also quick, and it is a physically tough team. They performed increasingly better through a bruising Big East season, the Big East conference tournament, and four challenging NCAA games.
These two teams are streaking.
Many writers have noted that Villanova has no trees. True, but they are a big and very physical basketball team.
Does Pittsburgh meet your definition of big? How about Syracuse? Villanova is 4-0 against those two teams this year.
Ken Pomeroy's Web site lists Villanova's average height as 77.1 inches, and North Carolina's as 77.2 inches.
It is true that Villanova has no trees, but when the ball bounces off the rim, a crowd of Villanova players leap—guards and forwards.
These are two excellent rebounding teams. North Carolina out rebounded its' opponents 42.1 to 35.1, while Villanova out rebounded its opponents, 37.2 to 32.8.
Both North Carolina and Villanova are deep. North Carolina uses pretty much an eight man rotation, playing four guards and four forwards (counting 6'6" Danny Green as more of a forward). Villanova plays four guards and four forwards (also counting 6'6" Duane Anderson as more of a forward).
Villanova's physicality and aggressiveness are two great assets, and some times liabilities. Both North Carolina and Villanova have four excellent guards, and both teams take very good care of the ball, more so North Carolina.
Acoording to Ken Pomeroy's site, North Carolina has a 16.7 percent turnover percentage. (The Division 1 average is 20.4 percent.) Villanova's percentage is 18.9 and has improved over this season as Villanova's two sophomore guards now have another 37 games under their belt.
The biggest challenge for Villanova in this game will be staying out of foul trouble. Villanova averages 19.1 fouls per game, while North Carolina averages 15.8.
North Carolina only has three players who average more than two fouls per games. As you would expect, they are three of the big men, Hansbrough (6'9"), Thompson (6'8"), and Green (6'6").
Villanova has seven men in their rotation who average over two fouls per game, led by Dante Cunningham (6'9").
Villanova is very physical, and deep. However, if leading scorer, rebounder, and team leader, Cunningham fouls out, the rest of the team will continue to bang, but it would be a steep uphill climb.
The last 10 games played by these two games include the cut-throat end of the conference season, their respective conference tournaments, and four NCAA tournament games.
These contests reflect two superb basketball teams who are playing at their peak. Both teams are 8-2 over this punishing stretch.
These 10 games also yield a rough indication of what we can expect.
If we average North Carolina's 10-game offense (85.8 ppg), with Villanova's 10-game defense (67.8), the result is 76.8 points.
Averaging Villanova's 10-game offense (75.7), with North Carolina's 10-game defense (72.5), the result is 74.1.
That edge goes to UNC, but when the first whistle blows and the ball is tossed we will see one of the best offenses in the country come out hot and and run directly into a very physical and tough defense.
It will be a slugfest.