North Carolina Vs Kentucky, this is the heavyweight matchup of the elite 8. Two famous coaches, a whole host of future NBA players... this should be pretty fun.
The Wildcats come into the game as a point and a half favorite, while the accuscore simulator has them winning 51% of the matchups. So really, this could barely be an closer. Kentucky coach Jon Calipari acknowledged how tough this game is shaping up to be.
"Can we, you know, guard North Carolina? I'm telling you, North Carolina is going to be hard. That may be a game we're trying to outscore them and they are trying to outscore us. Again, they haven't seen any tape. I have watched a little bit of tape to this point, and we still haven't totally decided on how we're playing some of the stuff, but they are good."
While Calipari might not be so sure how they'll guard North Carolina, Roy Williams sounds like he's got a pretty good idea. Namely, with forward Josh Harrellson, "For the huge part of the game last night he guarded Sullinger without any double-teams, so that allows the other players to stay out on the floor and not jam down."
Here's a pretty crazy stat, Harrellson has rebounded 15% of every shot that Kentucky has missed while he's been on the floor in this tournament. Williams is also impressed by the defensive development of Wildcats point guard Brandon Knight.
"I think Brandon is always been a really good scorer, but I think he has developed even more to a true point guard, a leader out there. And an even better defensive player, and I don't know if in high school he was asked to be a great defensive player, but I think John pushed him in that role."
So we've established that the coaches think each other are just great... but who is going to win this thing? My initial reaction was to ride the momentum and pick Kentucky. However, I had to ask myself if I would have picked Kentucky if they hadn't knocked off Ohio State? The answer is no. So if I ignore the excitement of their big upset and think objectively here... North Carolina wins this in a close one.
Pick: North Carolina