UNC Tar Heels: Are They Really as Dominant as They Appeared Against Marquette?

J FCorrespondent IMarch 25, 2011

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 25:  Dexter Strickland #1 of the North Carolina Tar Heels dunks the ball against Darius Johnson-Odom #1 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the second half of the east regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Prudential Center on March 25, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

North Carolina's Sweet 16 matchup with 11th-seeded Marquette appeared to be a tight game, as the Golden Eagles went up 10-8 after eight minutes had been played.

As it turned out, the scoreboard read 40-15 in favor of the Heels at halftime. North Carolina Heels had exploded for a 32-5 run with Marquette shooting less than 20 percent from the field.

The Golden Eagles missed all eight of their attempts from behind the arc before they limped into the locker room thoroughly embarrassed.

Although Marquette began to put the ball in the basket and pick up the intensity in the second half, the Heels had already buried them too deep for any kind of comeback.

North Carolina put together their most complete game of the tournament, playing stellar defense, forcing turnovers, pushing the ball up the court and capitalizing on their advantage in the post.

Kendall Marshall, who had six assists, has found a favorite target in forward John Henson. The two have combined for multiple alley-oops thus far in the tournament, and it seems Marshall could find his man even if the lights were out.

And they almost were.

North Carolina dropped Kobe's career-high on the Golden Eagles before putting in their reserves for the final minute. Henson had five blocks and 12 boards. Three Tar Heels scored in double figures as Tyler Zeller led all scorers with 27 and added 15 rebounds.

So, are they really the new favorites to win it all, or did they just dominate a team that didn't even deserve to be on the court with them?

Yes, Marquette had a horrible time draining shots and finishing at the rim, but that can be credited to Carolina's stingy defensive effort. Beating any team so far into the Big Dance by so much is impressive.

It looks like Roy Williams has finally convinced his inexperienced team to play their best ball at the most crucial time of the year.

The Heels have heated up and are as dangerous as ever. Whoever wins the matchup between Ohio State and Kentucky better find a way to freeze this ever-improving squad from Chapel Hill if they want a shot at the Final Four.

So, the answer is yes. North Carolina's dominance was not deception, and they are as good as they appeared.