Defense will occasionally win championships, but North Carolina and Villanova have ridden prodigious offenses into a heated NCAA tournament title bout.
Fans will hope Monday night's championship offers more intrigue than Saturday night's Final Four semifinals. After the Wildcats dismantled the Oklahoma Sooners in unprecedented fashion, the Tar Heels comfortably ended the Syracuse Orange's improbable run.
Both squads have run roughshod over the opposition and obtained blowouts via superb offensive efficiency. When North Carolina and Villanova meet for all the marbles in NRG Stadium, points should come in bulk.
|Mon., April 4||No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Villanova||9:19 p.m.||TBS|
So, Villanova is playing pretty well this March.
The Wildcats delivered the most lopsided victory in Final Four history on Saturday night by trouncing fellow No. 2 seed Oklahoma by 44 points. The Sooners scored 51 points, and the Wildcats tallied 53...in the second half.
“That was just one of those nights,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said after the game, per USA Today's Nicole Auerbach. “I feel bad for Oklahoma.”
All seven players who scored shot at least 60 percent from the floor, with the team collectively sinking 35 of 49 attempts. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Villanova flaunted the most dominant Final Four shooting display in over 30 years:
Villanova has now won its five tournament games by a 24.2-point margin of victory, beating everyone except Kansas by double digits. Its deep offense, clicking from top to bottom, jumped to No. 2 in KenPom.com's adjusted offense after Saturday's remarkable show.
The No. 1 offense? North Carolina, which shot 53.8 percent during its 83-66 triumph over the Orange. Every time Syracuse attempted to engineer other comeback, UNC silenced the rally by slicing open the 2-3 zone.
Despite struggling from behind the arc, the Tar Heels manhandled the paint, as illustrated by ESPN Stats & Info:
Following the 17-point victory, UNC has won every tournament contest by at least 14 points. Stretching back to the regular season and ACC tournament, it enters the championship game boasting a 10-game winning streak.
Both squads will score down low, but three-point shooting could make all the difference. Against Kansas' stingy defense, Villanova shot 4-of-18 from deep and tallied 64 points. It converted at least 10 threes in every other tournament match and averaged 90 points in four routs.
North Carolina doesn't defend the three-point line particularly well; it yields 7.7 threes per game on a 35.9 percentage. The nation's premier offense has also hit a funk from long range, going 8-of-30 over the past two games.
In a possible shootout, the Tar Heels can't afford to stay cold while the Wildcats go wild. They'll utilize their size advantage and pound the paint with senior forward Brice Johnson, but it may not prove enough if the Wildcats keep stockpiling buckets. Although it isn't the best matchup for the Big East representative, they rate No. 6 in adjusted defense.
Along with providing a plethora of points, Monday night will demonstrate a valuable lesson about sharing. Entering the Final Four, North Carolina and Villanova ranked No. 2 and No. 4, respectively, in assists. Both teams possess experience and depth, and this opens the door for anyone to steal the show in grand fashion.
Advanced stats courtesy of KenPom.com unless otherwise noted.
Check out Bleacher Report's live updating bracket to track your picks along the road to the Final Four.