It’s become a familiar story line ever since Roy Williams accepted the head coaching job at the University of North Carolina.
The North Carolina-Kansas match-up on Sunday will be the latest chapter in a more recent rivalry between the two teams and it hasn’t been pretty for the Tar Heels. Kansas has won every match-up against their former head coach, Roy Williams, since his departure.
The Tar Heels will look to put a stop to that trend and land an upset victory over the No. 1 seed in the NCAA’s South Region, but it won’t be an easy task.
An impossible task? I wouldn’t say that, as this Carolina team could end up shocking doubters on Sunday if they can pull off a victory. To do that however, I’ve come up with three keys for a North Carolina upset on Sunday.
1. Stop Jeff Withey
The Tar Heels have switched to a smaller lineup ever since their first match-up with Duke earlier this season. It’s worked for the most part, as Carolina can play a fast paced tempo, something they are more accustomed too. However, with a small lineup the Tar Heels give up size down low which could be a factor in Sundays game.
Enter Jeff Withey. The 7-foot senior center for Kansas had 15 points against the Tar Heels last season. That was going up against Tyler Zeller, a much more productive center than James Michael McAdoo is, who Withey will likely be matched up against on Sunday. McAdoo gives up three inches to Withey, which surely gives Kansas an advantage down low.
The advantage for McAdoo is his ability to hit the mid-range jumpers and force Withey out of the paint. This will be key for the Tar Heels success on Sunday, especially if McAdoo can hit the mid-range shot.
Withey is not only a force on the offensive end, but as well as the defensive end of the floor. Withey gives Kansas a shot blocking threat down low, and is a solid rebounder as well.
It’s going to be interesting if Roy gives Brice Johnson valuable minutes early on, especially if McAdoo struggles at the start.
2. Reggie Bullock & P.J. Hairston
If North Carolina can dominate the perimeter game, they have a very good chance of landing an upset bid over Kansas. This all starts with perimeter players P.J. Hairston and Reggie Bullock.
Hairston has seemed to find his rhythm lately which is great for the Tar Heels. In his last five games, Hairston has put up 20+ points in three of those, leading the Tar Heels to a victory in two of those games. Hairston can catch fire from beyond the arc, which posses a serious threat to Kansas.
Speaking of catching fire, Reggie Bullock also posses a threat to the Kansas defense with his shooting ability. While Bullock hasn’t been as hot as Hairston recently, he still could help the Tar Heels with a big night.
If the Tar Heels can win the perimeter battle, especially Bullock and Hairston, the game could be in their favor when it’s all said and done.
3. Rebound, Rebound, Rebound.
If North Carolina wants any shot of winning this game, they must dominate the boards against Kansas.
In their first game against Villanova, Carolina struggled on the glass. That lead to a ‘Nova comeback after the Tar Heels led by as much as 19 in the first half. This can’t happen against Kansas, or it could be a long day for the Tar Heels.
Like previously stated, Jeff Withey posses the biggest threat for North Carolina and could be a huge factor this game in the rebound category.
North Carolina will need to have the edge on the rebounding part of the game to have success.