The basketball gods have blessed us with the two best teams in the nation squaring off for all the glory.
With that being said here are five things each team needs to do to pull out a win.
North Carolina Tarheels
1. Close Out on Shooters- This may sound very trivial and basic, but its an absolute necessity for the Heels. Villanova’s offense is firing on all cylinders and hitting from all over the floor. North Carolina will needs to get in the face of every shooter out on the perimeter and hope for the best, if Villanova makes contested shots all night along then it was just meant to be.
2.Keep Josh Hart off the Glass- Josh Hart rebounds the ball as well as any wing player in college basketball. North Carolina needs to limit his activity on the glass. Josh Hart may only be 6’5, but he plays like he’s 6’9. His offensive rebounds usually result in two points or a trip to the foul line. On the defensive side, he has the ability to take the ball himself and go coast-to-coast and he’s smart enough to throw the outlet pass and get the Wildcats in transition. North Carolina will have a long night if Josh Hart is crashing the boards all night long.
3. Get Ochefu and Reynolds in Foul Trouble- The centers for Villanova are very skilled and are vital to their success on both sides of the ball. Nova only has two centers and UNC has four guys they can play at the five-spot. Forcing Villanova to go small would play right into the hands of North Carolina. They have the advantage in size, athleticism, and depth.
4. DO NOT Press Villanova- I honestly have not seen one successful attempt at trapping/pressing Villanova once this whole tournament. If breaking the press is an art, then Villanova is Michelangelo. They have mad a mockery of everyone that has tried to press them. Miami, Kansas, and Oklahoma all felt the wrath of the Villanova press break. They know how to get open and get easy baskets, when they’re pressured. Villanova should only be pressed as a last resort.
5. Get the Big Men in a Rhythm Early- Villanova’s perimeter defense has been stellar the entire tournament. They’ve been closing out on shooters, making it really hard to consistently hit outside shots and they have caused an ample amount of turnovers. North Carolina will need to get the easiest looks possible on offense. Getting bigs like Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks involved early will be key for the offensive flow of the Tarheels. If UNC can pound the ball down low, the perimeter will open up for shooters and smaller players slashing to the basket.
1.Get Jalen Brunson in Pick and Roll Situations- Jalen Brunson will most likely get guarded by Joel Berry II. Forcing Berry to fight through the screen will give Brunson the chance to create off the dribble and find open teammates. Brunson has great floor vision and is a solid finisher at the basket. Berry will most likely be the smallest defender on the floor, so having him switch onto the roll man will make some serious mismatches.
2.Boxout !- Villanova’s defense has been suffocating throughout the tourney. They have been forcing tough shots and they need to continue to grab defensive rebounds. Letting North Carolina get second chance opportunities could be a death sentence for Villanova. UNC is a great finishing team and their size advantage gives them the edge when scoring down low.
3. Take Care of the Ball- Villanova has done a fantastic job of playing smart and efficient basketball and that needs to continue for a win Monday night. UNC is a very athletic team that loves to get out and run. The more opportunities UNC has to get on the fast-break, the higher the chance of them winning. Turnovers kill.
4. Have a Plan-B on Offense- Nova has hit shots from everywhere at an astonishing rate so far. I’m not expecting them to go cold, but if they do they’ll need to adapt to a bad shooting night. They’ll need to get Ochefu one-on-one opportunities in the post and really work the pick-and-roll game if shots from distance aren’t falling.
5. Mikal Bridges !- After sitting out a whole year for a redshirt, Mikal Bridges is looking like a building-block for this program. His offensive game has developed nicely, but this kid is a big time defender. Bridges’ size and length will create serious problems for whoever he guards. At 6’7 with a roughly 7′ wingspan and quick feet, Bridges will be able to guard multiple position