Of course, I hope all of you had an enjoyable Easter weekend...
Looking at the outcome, back on the evening of Saturday, April 4, with more detachment-
I think that a combination of factors made the difference, between the loss and what could have been a major upset. These factors rose in importance, because looking at the dry numbers on the box score, two elements aren't consistent with a 14-point loss, in which you trailed badly, for nearly the entire game.
- Villanova - despite being far smaller - actually won the rebounding battle, 50-46, including hauling down 19 on the offensive end, to North Carolina's 14.
- The teams both had a dozen turnovers.
- The number of missed three-point shots that a) were open, and/or b) that rattled in and out. Villanova shot 5/27 from three-point range, a miserable 18.5%. And it wasn't just that the Wildcats' best perimeter shooters missed many shots. There seemed to be a disproportionate number of open looks that were not made, and also a good number that rattled in and out... If Villanova had made, say, 8 of 27 (which is still very poor - less than 33%), the entire tenor of the game would have been different, because the Wildcats would have remained within striking distance.
- Inability to get to the foul line. One of Villanova's major strengths this year has been free throw shooting accuracy. When it got to the line, Villanova did very well at the line on Saturday, making 12/16 of the line, an impressive 75%. But the Wildcats were unable to do what they often do - drive the lane effectively and draw fouls. North Carolina took far more shots at the line (22/37), and while the shooting percentage was poor (just 59.5%), the Tar Heels netted out a ten-point advantage.
- Enormous difficulty, in scoring underneath the basket. Granted, given the disadvantage that Villanova faced in terms of height, this might have been problematic, under any circumstances. North Carolina not only had Tyler Hansbrough, but Roy Williams could bring in two quality players off the bench. They had in reserve, Ed Davis, 6/10 and the team leader in blocks - and also a 7-footer, Tyler Zeller, off the bench, if they had needed him (he played just 2 minutes, as opposed to Davis's 22 minutes). But with Villanova's three-point shooters missing often, North Carolina could continue to stay packed in the lane- and force Villanova's drivers to take bad shots in traffic.
- On a lighter note- Jay Wright's pigs let us down. The pigs in Wright's aptly named "pig pocket", in the interior of his suit, were a good luck charm suggested by his daughter several weeks ago. The pigs had been 9-2, entering the game against North Carolina. But, regrettably, the pigs did not deliver at crunch time.
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