Our final Elite 8 matchup is probably the most highly anticipated, as two of the most storied franchises in college basketball square off for the right to go to the Final Four in the East Regional final in Newark. Let's take a look at the two matchups.
Ken Pomeroy says ... 39th best offense and 5th best defense, playing at a furious pace, one of the fastest in college basketabll. UNC is an excellent rebounding team and good at keeping opponents off the line, all while being able to hold onto the ball. They also enjoy strong field goal defense, and are excellent at getting blocked shots and not getting their shots blocked.
The weaknesses for North Carolina are shooting the basketball. Due partly to the volume of shots they take, they're a poor three point and free throw shooting team. In addition, the Heels get a lot of their passes picked off while struggling to force turnovers of their own.
Ken Pomeroy says ... 7th best offense, 20th best defense, average tempo (208th). Great shooting offense (particularly with the three point shot) and great shooting defense (particularly with the two point shot). Pretty good rebounding on both sides. Excellent at holding onto the ball, excellent three point shooting offense and strong two point shooting defense. Good at getting blocks.
The biggest weakness with Kentucky is they're an average rebounding squad, which could cause them trouble against big and strong teams.
Prediction: Before the tournament, it was looking like the reliance on freshmen would not be enough to put John Calipari's squad over the top, but Kentucky has gotten quality production from their veterans, who gave them enough to beat Ohio State.
But now they meet a team that can match their athleticism and the pace of the game. In their regular season matchup, Kentucky had a better shooting game from outside, but could not do anything in the paint, got out rebounded, and shot way fewer free throws.
I look for Kentucky to win the rematch on a neutral court, as they probably will avoid being at a huge free throw disadvantage and will try to slow the game down defensively, forcing North Carolina's poor shooting to the front of the stage. If they can avoid getting dominated on the boards, they should be able to squeak this one out.