NCAA Tournament Predictions: South Region: 8. North Carolina vs. 9. Villanova

James Michael McAdoo (

James Michael McAdoo (AP)

 8 North Carolina (24-6, 12-6 ACC)- The Tar Heels have been a different team in the second half of the season, winning 8 of 9 games down the stretch and rolling into the NCAA Tournament as an 8-seed (though it should be higher). There’s not much star power on this Carolina team, but they play well together. The Heels are efficient on offense, averaging 77.2 points per game, which ranks 14th in the nation. They also dish out 17.3 assists per game (3rd in the country) and pull down 39.2 rebounds (14th). Their biggest star is undoubtedly 6-8 swingman James Michael McAdoo, who averages 14.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. His emergence in the second half of the season has been one of the main reasons why the Heels have been able to shake off an early season slump and turn things on in conference play.

The Tar Heels also boast a pair of capable scorers in P.J. Hairston and Reggie Bullock, who each average over 14 points per game. Point guard Dexter Strickland struggled mightily at the beginning of the season but has found his groove and allowed the Tar Heels to get on this major role. Their appearance in the ACC championship game only cements the fact that this is a dangerous team. Kansas has gotten the better of Roy Williams in each of their past two tournament meetings (’08 and ’12), so Williams will be hungry to repay them if they meet in Round 2.


3rd Assists Per Game (17.3)

14th Points Per Game (77.2)

14th Rebounds Per Game (39.2)


Guard JayVaughn Pinkston (Howard Smith/USA Today Sports)

Guard JayVaughn Pinkston (Howard Smith/USA Today Sports)

 9 Villanova (20-13, 10-8 Big East)- The Wildcats own some puzzling losses (Columbia, Providence, Seton Hall) and some season-making wins (Louisville, Syracuse, Georgetown). They might be the most enigmatic team in the NCAA Tournament. Villanova is painfully young, with just one senior who plays big minutes (center Mouphtao Yarou). They’ve got three young guards in sophomores JayVaughn Pinkston (12.9 ppg) and Darrun Hillard (11.3 ppg) and freshman Ryan Arcidiacano (12.3 ppg) who control the offense and can go off in any game. All three have gone for 20-plus points this season.

Villanova isn’t a great shooting team, ranking 263rd in field goal percentage, and they take an awful lot of threes. It will be interesting to see if they can slow the game down enough to play with North Carolina in the half court. If they can, they’ve got a shot to win, especially if big man Moupthao Yarou shows up. If not, it’s hard to imagine that the Wildcats will be able to run with the Heels for 40 minutes.


263rd Field Goal Percentage (.416)
57th Field Goal Percentage Defense (40.2)

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