Tale of the Tip
*National rank in parentheses, out of 347 teams
Villanova 67.8 (121), UNC 77.2 (14)
VILLANOVA 64.7 (125), UNC 69.1 (242)
VILLANOVA +3.0 (84), North Carolina +2.4 (106)
Villanova 15.7 (323), UNC 12.2 (87)
Villanova -0.5 (213), UNC +3.1 (23)
Field goal percentage
Villanova 41.5 (262), UNC 44.4 (111)
Villanova 33.6 (188), UNC 37.4 (41)
Free throw percentage
VILLANOVA 72.0 (86), North Carolina 67.2 (244)
No. 9 Villanova (20-13, 10-8 Big East) vs. No. 8 North Carolina (24-10, 12-6 ACC)
Friday, 7:20 p.m., TNT -- Kansas City, Mo., NCAA South Region
JayVaughn Pinkston: 13.1 ppg, 46 percent FGs
Ryan Arcidiacono: 12.0 ppg, 82.4 percent FTs
Darrun Hilliard: 11.2 ppg, 74 percent FTs
James Michael McAdoo: 14.4 ppg, 45 percent FGs
P.J. Hairston: 14.3 ppg, 2.4 threes per game
Reggie Bullock: 14.2 ppg, 44 percent from three
Villanova and UNC had no common opponents this season, and neither team played a foe from the opposite conference.
Recent tourney success
• Villanova went 13-19 last season and didn’t make a tournament.
• In 2011, the ninth-seeded Wildcats lost a first-round matchup to 8-seed George Mason.
• In 2010, ‘Nova barely got past 15-seed Robert Morris in overtime before losing to Omar Samhan and 10-seed Saint Mary’s.
• Jay Wright’s team made the Final Four in 2009 but lost to 1-seed North Carolina, 83-69. That was the last time these teams met.
• North Carolina has lost in the Elite Eight in back-to-back years, to Kansas and Kentucky. In 2010 they made the NIT.
• In 2009 the Tar Heels beat Michigan State for the National Championship after dispatching of Villanova.
How they got here
Villanova entered the year with relatively low expectations after finishing 13-19 and losing Maalik Wayns, Dominic Cheek and transfers Ty Johnson and Markus Kennedy. But the presence of freshman point guard Ryan Arcidiacono and the development of forwards Darrun Hilliard and JayVaughn Pinkston turned ‘Nova from Big East afterthought to Giant Killer.
Villanova picked up a solid win early against Purdue and went 9-4 out of conference, then did its best work inside the Big East. The last week of January, the Wildcats beat No. 5 Louisville and No. 3 Syracuse in the span of five days.
But over the next month Villanova suffered bad losses to Providence (at home) and Seton Hall (on the road). Needing a win in one of their final two regular-season games to feel confident in an at-large bid, Villanova lost in overtime at Pittsburgh before stunning No. 5 Georgetown three days later.
The ‘Cats were then a 19-point victim of No. 1 overall seed Louisville in the Big East quarterfinals.
North Carolina began the season ranked 11th in the country but suffered its first setback in its fifth game, losing by 11 to Butler in Hawaii. A week later the Tar Heels were pasted by 24 by eventual 1-seed Indiana. Their final non-conference loss was an ugly, 18-point defeat to a middling Texas team.
Once in the ACC, high-scoring North Carolina lost its first two games, to Virginia and Miami, while averaging just 55.5 points.
But after the 0-2 start in the conference, UNC rolled off 12 wins in its next 15 games, beating up exclusively on the weaker ACC teams. It should be noted that North Carolina was 1-8 against the RPI top-50 and 0-5 against Duke and Miami, the two best teams in the ACC.
How they stack up
Villanova, like Temple against N.C. State (see scouting report), has a tough task at-hand against a high-octane opponent. UNC is 14th in the nation in points per game, shoots very well from three and doesn’t turn the ball over much.
Contrarily, the Wildcats are statistically a mediocre offensive team that is among the most turnover-prone squads in the country.
To win, the 'Cats badly need Arcidiaciono to get back on track. He’s shot 32 percent in his last six games, with close to three turnovers per contest.
Villanova will also need to make the most of its size advantage. The Wildcats have three regulars 6-foot-10 or taller, in Mouphtaou Yarou, Daniel Ochefu and Maurice Sutton, plus the wide-bodied, 6-7 Pinkston.
North Carolina has some size with freshmen Joel James (6-10) and Brice Johnson (6-9), but those two average fewer than 11 minutes per game. UNC is led in rebounding by James Michael McAdoo (7.4 rpg) and Reggie Bullock (6.6).
To keep the game close, Villanova simply cannot allow a team as explosive offensively as UNC -- which has scored at least 79 points in 16 games this season -- second-chance opportunities. The Tar Heels average 13.4 offensive rebounds per game compared to 'Nova’s 11.1.