I'm back from a one-week break and am fairly astounded, like everyone else, that both Butler and VCU made the Final Four.
Kentucky beating UNC? Now that wasn't astounding. If they played 10 times, I figure each team would win five. Very evenly matched. In my mind, the difference on Sunday was:
1) John Henson's foul trouble. Why was Henson reaching down for the volleyball-spike block on some of them, instead of simply keeping his hands up and going for the tip block? It's so much safer. Henson deserves credit for staying out of foul trouble nearly all year, but this was a bad day to have a bad day, as John Fox would say.
2) 3-point issues. Kentucky made 12 of 22 from three-point range, which is not that easy to do even if you're shooting alone in an empty gym. Kudos to the Wildcats for that -- like Arizona against Duke, Kentucky got a 3 whenever it needed one. But as for North Carolina... Leslie McDonald sure slumped late in the year, which meant that Harrison Barnes was about the only guy who could make a 3 for the last couple of weeks. And when Barnes' outside shot was off -- he was 2-for-9 from 3-point range Sunday -- there just wasn't enough help.
3) The knife edge. This Carolina team had a very good season -- a great one, really, given that it made it to the final 8 after not making the NCAA tournament at all in 2010 and was also the final ACC team to go out.
But it also had a disturbing tendency to play on a knife edge. Other than the Marquette game in the Sweet 16, it's hard to remember a game against a quality opponent in which UNC simply put the other guys away early and then kept that team down. It made valiant comeback attempts many times, but you can't live like that forever.
6 months ago