9 Villanova (20-13, 10-8 Big East) vs. 24-10 (12-6 ACC)
Time: 7:20 p.m.
Place: Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo. (The almost-home of the Pittsburgh Penguins!)
Not your conventional resume: Villanova didn't win a single meaningful game out of conference and was considered for the half the season to be too young and too raw to make the tournament. Then the Wildcats did something no else in the country managed to do. By the end of the regular season, they knocked off four of the nation's top 12 teams in the RPI — Syracuse, Louisville, Marquette and Georgetown. Those four wins were enough Villanova all the way up to a 9-seed.
What they're dealing with: Eight of North Carolina's 10 losses this year were to NCAA tournament teams. The only teams the Tar Heels lost to that aren't still alive in this tournament: Texas (early and on the road) and Virginia (who beat six Top 75 RPI teams and was one the field's biggest snubs). That, and the Heels have only lost to two teams in the last 50 days: 2-seed Duke and 2-seed Miami. In short, Villanova's probably ranked a little too high and UNC a little too low.
The Wildcats win if… They stop turning over the goddamned ball (15.7 times per game). Otherwise, I defer to Corey Seidman:
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.
Roy Williams making a face, wearing a jacket: