Jim Hawkins/Inside Carolina

UNC Opponent Preview: Villanova

Only two teams remain. North Carolina and Villanova meet for the national championship on Monday night at NRG Stadium in Houston. The game is set to tip at 9:19 pm ET and will be televised by TBS.

North Carolina (33-6) vs. Villanova (34-5)
Houston, Tex. – NRG Stadium
Monday, 9:19 p.m. ET
TBS (Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill, Tracy Wolfson)


“I think they are third in the country in offensive field goal percentage, meaning of any team in the country, they get the most offensive rebounds off their missed shots. It's not just length and athleticism, it's scheme. They have those guys around the basket. It's desire. So we've got to scheme against it and we've got to have the toughness and aggressiveness to want to go get it like they do. They do a great job of getting after the ball. I think it's going to be a huge part of the game.” – Villanova head coach Jay Wright on UNC

“I think when we get defensive rebounds we can kick it up to anyone whether it’s Josh (Hart) or Kris (Jenkins). We know that when coach calls a play it’s whoever has the ball or whoever is closest to the ball will just take it and set it up and we’ll go from there.” - Villanova point guard Ryan Arcidiacono on his team playing two point guards at the same time

“It started when we were about 10. That was probably the first time we met. My parents and his parents always stayed in contact. Eventually I moved to Maryland from South Carolina. It’s the greatest decision of my life. For us to compete against each other tomorrow is something special for our family. There’s nobody in the world I want to beat more than my brother. It’s not a movie script. It’s amazing how it worked out, all the dedication and sacrifice, to have this opportunity. It’s special to our family.” – Villanova forward Kris Jenkins on his adopted brother, UNC guard Nate Britt

“This is going to be a hell of a game.” – Wright


How The Wildcats Got Here: In a game of No. 2 seeds, Villanova throttled Oklahoma, 95-51, in the Final Four on Saturday night. The Wildcats used a 21-4 run to establish a big lead that only grew as the second half elapsed. The beatdown marked the largest margin of victory in Final Four history as the Wildcats shot 71.4 percent while holding the Sooners to 31.7 percent shooting (19-of-60) from the field. Junior guard Josh Hart led Villanova with 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting, while the stingy Nova defense allowed just one Sooner to score in double-figures (Jordan Woodard, 12 points). Naismith Player of the Year Buddy Hield has held to nine points on 4-of-12 shooting.

A Dominant Run: Villanova has put together one of the most impressive tournament runs in recent memory en route to the national championship game. The Wildcats have destroyed their March Madness opponents by an average margin of 24.6 points per game, and have hit a ridiculous 58 percent of their shots from the field in the NCAA Tournament, including 49 percent from the 3-point line. On the defensive end, the Wildcats have held their opponents to 42 percent shooting. Their performance is even more eye-opening when taking into account that Villanova has beaten the top overall seed in Kansas, a quality Miami team in the Sweet 16 and Oklahoma at NRG Stadium.

Hart of the Offense: Junior guard Josh Hart leads the Wildcats in scoring with 15.5 points per game on 51.5 percent shooting. He’s a versatile player who can shift around from point guard to shooting guard to small forward on the offensive end while playing quality defense on the other end. Hart can run the floor in transition and crash the offensive boards effectively – averaging nearly two offensive rebounds per game - and should be UNC’s number one priority to shut down when the Wildcats have the ball.

Nova Stretches the Floor: The Wildcats provide an awkward match-up for UNC with the way they utilize a stretch-four in junior forward Kris Jenkins. While the Tar Heels play with traditional big men in Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, Joel James and Isaiah Hicks, Jenkins is more than capable of stepping outside of the paint and forcing the bigs to defend outside of their comfort zone. This creates spacing for the Wildcats while potentially drawing costly fouls throughout the game against the Carolina frontcourt. The downside of playing small is that Villanova only plays two legitimate big men in Daniel Ochefu and reserve Darryl Reynolds.

All in the Family: The Villanova-North Carolina matchup for the national championship feels like a fated affair given the incredible story between Nate Britt and Kris Jenkins. Britt and Jenkins are adopted brothers, with the Britt family taking Jenkins in after his mother felt they could give him a better life. The pair played together throughout their childhood, and this will be their first real competitive game against each other, on the biggest stage in college basketball.

Zoning Out: Wright has never been one to play a zone defense, preferring a strictly man approach for most of his 14-year tenure in Philadelphia. That changed this year as the Wildcats have played more zone than ever, and the approach paid off in the Elite Eight win over Kansas in limiting Jayhawks forward Perry Ellis’s effectiveness. The Wildcats will likely use the zone against UNC to contain its bigs while stopping dribble penetration.

Last Meeting: The eighth-seeded Tar Heels defeated the ninth-seeded Wildcats, 78-71, in the NCAA Tournament’s first round in Kansas City, Mo., on March 22, 2013. P.J. Hairston led UNC with 23 points, while Marcus Paige added 14 points. The Tar Heels shot 52.4 percent from 3-point range (11-of-21) in advancing to the round of 32.

Series History: UNC leads the all-time series, 11-4. The Tar Heels are 5-1 against the Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Starters:
2 Kris Jenkins (6-6, 240, Jr.) – 13.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg
23 Daniel Ochefu (6-11, 245, Sr.) - 10.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg
3 Josh Hart (6-5, 202, Jr.) - 15.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg
15 Ryan Arcidiacono (6-3, 195, Sr.) – 12.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg
1 Jalen Brunson (6-3, 199, Fr.) - 9.7 ppg, 1.8 rpg

Top Reserves:
5 Phil Booth (6-3, 185, So.) – 6.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg
25 Mikal Bridges (6-7, 191, Fr.) – 6.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg
45 Darryl Reynolds (6-8, 225, Jr.) – 3.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg

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