Carolina-Kansas? Hello? Can't see bluebloods from Fla. Gulf Coast
An epic Jayhawks-Tar Heels rematch has been overshadowed.
The story is getting old, isn't it? Kansas has already flogged its old coach twice by a combined 31 points. Both times the Jayhawks walked over Roy Williams to play for a championship -- once in the 2008 Final Four and again last year in a regional final. Carolina's Williams, who said he gave his "heart, body and soul" to Kansas for 15 years, is now owned by the Jayhawks on the court.
"It's not immoral," Williams said this week, "to love two institutions."
No, it isn't. But you wonder where on the hype meter it falls at this moment in the NCAA tournament. Search for "700" -- Williams’ career number of victories after beating Villanova Friday night -- and it might be the number of new applications at Florida Gulf Coast University. Meanwhile, any reference to the contrived term "student-athlete" has to start with Harvard.
Kansas' Bill Self wasn't even asked about the matchup during his late-Friday night presser after beating Western Kentucky. The nation loves upsets. The other game here Sunday -- La Salle vs. Ole Miss in the West region -- features the lowest combined seeds left in the tournament.
As for Twitter buzz, Friday night was reserved for the Rebels' Marshall Henderson, whose twitpic was showing up sipping some sort of beverage at a nearby above-21 establishment.
All of the sudden, there is no room for bluebloods. North Carolina's fans barely filled up a section at the Sprint Center for the Nova game. Wonder how many of them will go home now that the NCAA has addressed the possibility of weather affecting Sunday's games?
Will eight inches of snow trump eight combined national championships on the court?
Carolina will definitely be outnumbered in the stands. Not so suddenly, though, Kansas looks vulnerable on the court. It had Jeff Withey and basically little else Friday night against Western Kentucky. Rookie Ben McLemore looked lost at times. Guards Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe were a combined 1 for 9 with four turnovers.
North Carolina is going to be more formidable. The Tar Heels have a big man -- 6-foot-9 James Michael McAdoo -- who has the ability to pull the 7-foot Withey out of the paint on defense. You can count on one hand the number of times that has happened to Withey/Kansas.
When everything else breaks down, the Jayhawks have been able to rely on Withey, who has improved his draft stock with his ability to block shots without fouling. Carolina has played with a small lineup since mid-January when Williams switched to a four-guard lineup.
McAdoo has attempted only two 3s all season but is the closest thing Carolina has to a finisher around the basket. If McAdoo can lure Withey away from the basket just a little with jumpers, then that could leave the Tar Heels' guards room to drive.
An average Carolina team beating the tournament's No. 2 overall seed, in a hostile arena 45 minutes from Kansas' campus? That would qualify as an upset, too. You wonder, though, if the basketball world will notice. Or, on this weekend, is Carolina-Kansas old news?
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