North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Oregon Ducks
Date and Time: Saturday, April 1, 2017, 8:45 p.m. ET
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
Final Four Odds at BookMaker.eu: North Carolina -4, O/U 148.5
North Carolina vs. Oregon TV Coverage: CBS
When North Carolina Has the Ball…
Maye didn't just hit the game-winning shot against Kentucky. He scored 17 points in the game and was just behind Justin Jackson for the team lead. All of a sudden, Maye has scored 33 points in his last two games, and for the Big Dance, he's averaging 27.0 points and 14.6 rebounds per 40 minutes played. For a team that already has Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson, all of whom run at least at 6-foot-6, the idea of bringing a lanky kid like Maye off the bench and getting that type of production out of him is insane.
The big story though, is whether Jordan Bell is going to be able to do the same type of damage against the Tar Heels as he did against Kansas in the Elite Eight. This is a really, really tough challenge defending the rim against this team, something that was a lot easier against a Kansas outfit who tried time and time again to get the rack with its guards. That's how Bell finished with eight rejections on the evening against the Jayhawks. Good luck replicating that sort of defensive pressure in this one, particularly if Bell finds himself having to step outside to defend against some of these bigs who shoot threes like North Carolina is bringing to the table.
When Oregon Has the Ball…
We cannot stress enough just how good the North Carolina defense has been in this tournament as well. That run against Arkansas over the course of the last 2:30 or so of the game in the Round of 32 was all keyed by this defense. The Tar Heels came up with stop after stop down the stretch and rolled off the last 10 points to avoid what could have been a crushing upset in that one, and they really played tremendous ball when they had to against Kentucky as well. Go back and look at the shot Malik Monk hit in transition to tie the game before Maye won it on Sunday. Monk had three guys around him with hands up. It was an impossible shot that only seems to fall in March Madness. Hats off to anybody on Oregon who might be able to replicate that.
The good news for the Ducks is that they're doing their scoring. They were dynamite offensively against Iona in the opening round and followed that up with incredibly efficient showings against Rhode Island, Michigan and Kansas. The U of O though, has shot close to 50 percent for this tournament, and that isn't a sustainable number for a team that has done a lot of settling for jump shots. Tyler Dorsey's next bucket will give up 100 points for this tournament, including a game against Iona in which he didn't miss a shot from inside the arc. But now much longer can he really keep this up, and can he do so against a UNC team that has tremendous trees that can all block shots? We're not optimistic.
The X Factor
Foul trouble. It can get even the best teams in America in a lot of trouble. But the Ducks have only allowed an average of 12 free throw attempts per game in the NCAAs so far, and that's really protected Bell in particular. The dearth of big men just isn't there for Oregon, and we know that North Carolina can keep throwing bigs in waves at any opponent. Bell absolutely has to stay out of foul trouble, because if he spends more than maybe a half dozen minutes on the bench in this one, the Ducks are probably giving up 90 points to a team that will get whatever shot it wants on the offensive end of the floor if it probes well enough.