It was no surprise that the University of North Carolina Tar Heels crushed the Michigan State Spartans in the conclusion of the men’s college basketball tournament by the final score of 89-72. The Tar Heels were on a mission for a championship as soon as Danny Green, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, and Tyler Hansbrough all decided to return for the 2008-2009 season.
Carolina looked excellent during the entirety of the season with only four losses. During the NCAA tournament, the team manhandled their opponents by a combined score of 527-406 (an average of 87.8-67.7). As soon the ball left the referee’s hands, America saw that UNC was ready to play. UNC had a swagger about them throughout the game that showed in their defense. The Tar Heels had nine steals to Michigan State’s one. As well as their defense playing well, UNC turned the ball over only seven times, while Michigan State turned it over 21 times. Michigan State was simply over-matched, as all of UNC’s opponents seemed throughout the year.
The Tar Heel offense never seemed tested along the way to the final. With the talent of five potential NBA draft prospects, (yes, Hansbrough is included) stopping UNC was next to impossible. They faced foes such as top player in the country, Blake Griffin, who had 26 points and 16 boards against the Tar Heels, however UNC collectively shot seven percent better from the field and 25 percent better from behind the arc than the Oklahoma Sooners. It also helps that the Tar Heels have a veteran coach Roy Williams who has a combined record of 175-37 (.825) coaching at the University of North Carolina.
The only pre-tournament concern surrounding Carolina was the health of Ty Lawson. However, he proved all doubters wrong, averaging 20.6 points a game and finishing in the championship with 21 points, four rebounds and six assists.
The Tar Heels played as a cohesive unit throughout the tournament. The members of the Carolina team saw a chance at a championship, and they certainly siezed it. They will return no starters next year, and it will be tough for them to escape the shadow of the ’08-’09 championship team. As for next season, if Kansas’ Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins return, all five of the starting Kansas Jayhawks would return. They should enter the 2009-2010 season at number one.